On May 18, 2021, Fair Lines America Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants failed to fulfill FLAF's FOIA request by the statutory deadline, which sought all records of counting operations, summaries, tabulations, and underlying group quarters population data received in response to the Census Bureau's 2020 Group Quarters Enumeration questionnaire from the 2020 Census. FLAF is requesting a judicial declaration that the defendants are in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, an order requiring the defendants to make a determination as to the request and to expeditiously conduct an adequate search for responsive records, and injunctive relief mandating that the defendants promptly complete processing the request and to produce all responsive records not otherwise exempt from disclosure within 10 days of the date of the Court's order.

On August 2, 2022, the district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the grounds the records sought fell within the FOIA exemption for materials "specifically exempted from disclosure by statute," citing 13 U.S.C. Section 9(b) which prohibits "any publication whereby the data furnished by any particular establishment or individual under this title can be identified." The court accepted the Census Bureau's argument that the records at issue, while not capable of leading to the identification of any individuals on their own, could nevertheless contribute to some future series of events in which a third-party would be able to identify individuals.


U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia - No. 1:21-cv-01361