Case Summary

On July 24, 2020, twenty states, cities, and smaller jurisdictions led by New York state filed a lawsuit contending that the July 21, 2020, Presidential Memorandum, which directs the census bureau to exclude undocumented immigrants residing in the United States from the official 2020 census state population counts, is unconstitutional and otherwise in violation of federal law. The Department of Commerce, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Census Bureau, and the Census Director Steven Dillingham are also named as defendants. Plaintiffs have requested that the Presidential Memorandum be declared unconstitutional and that the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce be forbidden from sending apportionment-related citizenship data to the President.

Plaintiffs argue that the President's order to exclude illegal aliens from official state population totals violates Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that the "whole number of persons in each State" be counted, and that the President's order is motivated by an intent to discriminate against Hispanic and immigrant communities, thereby implicating due process and equal protection concerns. Plaintiffs also argue that the President's order violates several federal statutory provisions, including the Census Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

This case was consolidated with New York Immigration Coalition v. Trump on August 4, 2020, and was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on September 18, 2020.

The Defendants' motion for stay of judgment pending appeal was denied by the District Court on September 29, 2020.

On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion ordering that the judgment of the District Court be vacated and remanding the case with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on two related grounds: the plaintiffs’ lack of standing and the ripeness of their claims. The six justice majority explained that because there still remains fundamental uncertainties regarding the feasibility and specific implementation of the President’s order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base, the court could not properly decide this case based upon the policy itself “’in the abstract.’” Furthermore, the plaintiffs’ claims centered around the Executive Branch’s delivery of its apportionment base report to Congress which has yet to be created, and in the absence of that report the plaintiffs are unable to demonstrate any supposed injury as a result of the President’s order. The majority expressed no opinion on the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims.

On January 15, 2021, the district court entered an order dismissing the case without prejudice to filing a new lawsuit once the plaintiffs' claims become ripe for judicial decision again.

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Commerce to calculate state population totals and reapportionment figures based upon the whole number of persons in the state without regard to their immigration status, thereby revoking President Trump's Executive Order 13880 and Presidential Memorandum of July 21, 2020.

Case Library

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York - 1:20-cv-05770

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit - 20-3142

Supreme Court of the United States - 20-366