Attorney General Becerra to Supreme Court: Trump’s Citizenship Question is Unconstitutional and Unlawful
Brief follows recent win in California’s lawsuit challenging the citizenship question
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting New York and other states in their victorious lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The federal government is asking the Supreme Court to reverse a U.S. District Court’s ruling in New York’s lawsuit that the citizenship question was unlawful. The Supreme Court has directed New York and the federal government to address whether the citizenship question violates federal statutes or the Constitution. In March, Attorney General Becerra and a coalition of local California governments prevailed in their own lawsuit when another district court struck down the citizenship question, ruling it was both unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Not once, but twice have the courts ruled that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is unlawful,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We’ll continue fighting to protect Californians who could be disproportionately harmed by this question. And today, we support New York and others in their lawsuit to hold the Trump Administration accountable. We ask the Supreme Court to uphold the district courts’ rulings so that we may move forward with a fair, accurate and non-partisan 2020 Census.”
In 2018, in a separate lawsuit from New York’s case, Attorney General Becerra along with California local governments also challenged the Trump Administration’s decision to include the citizenship question in the 2020 Census. On March 6, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California struck down the Trump Administration’s addition of the citizenship question as being not just unlawful (as in the New York case) but also unconstitutional. The Trump Administration has asked the Supreme Court to review both cases.
In the brief submitted today, Attorney General Becerra addressed California’s interest in the New York case. He supports both district courts’ rulings that the Trump Administration’s action was unlawful. Attorney General Becerra asserts that:
- California has substantial interest in the case, as a citizenship question would disproportionately impact states with high populations of immigrants, including California, causing an undercount that would threaten funding and federal representation.
- The Trump Administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act, and it is unconstitutional in that it violates Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which requires an “actual enumeration” of all people every ten years.
- The district courts properly considered depositions of federal government officials and other evidence that the states as plaintiff obtained through discovery.
A copy of the brief can be found here.
This is the third decennial census that Attorney General Becerra has played a role in shaping. Last year, Attorney General Becerra – along with Secretary of State Alex Padilla – published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting how high the stakes are for California when it comes to conducting a fair and accurate census. On February 12, 2018, at a time when it was rumored that the Trump Administration would add a citizenship question to the census, Attorney General Becerra co-led a coalition of 19 Attorneys General in sending a letter to US Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, warning that a citizenship question would violate the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes. A month later, on March 28, 2018, the same day that the Trump Administration announced its decision to add the citizenship question, California, the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Cities of Fremont, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Stockton together filed the first lawsuit challenging the unlawful maneuver. Now, the matter stands before the US Supreme Court for final adjudication.