Common Cause Files Supreme Court Brief in Census Citizenship Case

Today, Common Cause filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in Trump v. New York, urging the court to uphold the three lower court rulings blocking the Trump administration’s attempt to omit undocumented immigrants from the census numbers used for the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Three lower courts have ruled that President Trump’s memorandum ordering this unprecedented change violates the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes governing the census and apportionment.

The Common Cause brief emphasizes that the White House memorandum served as a deterrent for communities of color to participate in the census. This will result in undercounts leading to overcrowded districts, vote dilution, diminished representation, and a reduction in per capita government funding. The brief also points to the specific harm to states that stand to lose congressional seats – including California which would likely lose two or three seats in Congress. We urge the Court to intervene before December 31st when the Secretary of Commerce would send his report to the President excluding undocumented immigrants because acting afterwards would disrupt and delay redistricting.

“Americans expect and deserve fairness and accuracy in the census and in the apportionment and redistricting that follow in keeping with the intentions and guarantees of the United States Constitution,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “The lower courts have been unanimous in recognizing that the memo is a clear violation of the United States Constitution and we are confident the Supreme Court will uphold those rulings.”

“If this unconstitutional directive were to be carried out, millions of our friends, family, and neighbors, including people that are “documented” will lose political representation in Congress and government funding – paid for with their taxes – for schools, roads, education, and other vital programs,” said Keshia Morris Desir, Census Project Manager. “The Constitution makes very clear that the census must count every resident, but the Trump administration memo nonetheless attempts to circumvent it in order to manipulate the census for partisan political gain.”

The full list of amici include: Common Cause, the cities of Atlanta, Georgia; Clarkston, Georgia; Dayton, Ohio; El Paso, Texas; Paterson, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; South Pasadena, California, and El Monte Union High School District; the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans; the Center for Civic Policy; Masa; New Jersey Citizen Action; New Mexico Asian Family Center; New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé; and 2 individual Latino, African American, Asian American and other voters from California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

Amici are represented by Emmet J. Bondurant of Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP; Gregory L. Diskant, Aron Fischer, Jonah M. Knobler, Peter A. Nelson, J. Jay Cho, Devon Hercher, and Abigail E. Marion of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP; and Michael B. Kimberly of McDermott Will & Emery.

Common Cause filed the first challenge to President Trump’s memorandum, just two days after it was issued. A decision is pending in Common Cause v. Trump.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Trump v. New York on November 30th.

To read the brief, click here.