PILF to SCOTUS: Take the Census Case Now

Published On: February 11th, 2019

PILF Submits Brief in Support of Expedited Hearing

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – February 11, 2019: The Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Department of Commerce’s request that the Court hear its case ahead of critical 2020 Census deadlines.

The United States is currently defending the reinstatement of a citizenship question on the general 2020 Census survey against multiple lawsuits brought by the State of New York and others. The questions now before the Court are whether the district court in New York erred in enjoining the Government’s Census plans and if the plaintiffs can go outside the administrative record to probe the intent behind the reinstatement of the citizenship question.

The Foundation was previously granted entry before the district court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court to share the value the citizenship data would have in federal voting rights law.

Time is running out to correct the errors of the trial court,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “If the Supreme Court doesn’t step in now, the Justice Department and untold scores of private parties will be handicapped in enforcing the Voting Rights Act on a national scale for at least a decade.”

The Foundation’s latest brief notes:

The district court erred. This error, if not corrected by this Court before the deadline for the printing of Census forms, will have long-lasting effects. The opportunity to collect the data on the 2020 Census, once gone, cannot be reclaimed. This “case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court.”

The Foundation offers two arguments in support of the Government’s request for an expedited Supreme Court hearing.

The citizenship question is plainly a matter of national importance.

Due to the simple facts that reliable citizenship data is mission-critical for any party wishing to enforce provisions of the Voting Rights Act and there are another four lawsuits not yet before the Supreme Court, the circumstances have clearly crossed a threshold whereby the Court is justified in bypassing typical appellate procedure.

Census deadlines are approaching too quickly for standard appellate procedure.

The Government has notified the Court that it is against a hard June 2019 deadline to finalize/print Census questionnaires. The brief argues the nation will suffer an “uncorrectable ripple effect into the future if this critical data … is not collected.”

The latest brief was filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in In Re U.S. Department of Commerce, No. 18-966. Related filings can be found, here.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is the nation’s most active public interest law firm dedicated to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and ensuring the integrity of American elections – bringing more than a dozen cases to enforce voter list maintenance obligations and inspection rights under federal law in federal courts across the nation in addition to serving as amicus in more than a dozen voting law cases. The Foundation also works with election officials and policymakers to improve the integrity of elections.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, the Foundation seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections. ###

Public Interest Legal Foundation