Two legal challenges to the Trump administration’s execution of the 2020 census neared conclusions this week in the face of changes brought by President Joe Biden’s administration since he took office last January.
A group of primarily Latino and Asian American advocates that had sued the Trump administration in federal court in Maryland on Wednesday asked to have their lawsuit dismissed. Their lawsuit challenged orders from President Donald Trump that directed the Census Bureau to gather citizenship information about every U.S. resident through administrative records and also attempted to exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used for divvying up congressional seats among the states.
The advocates said Trump’s orders violated the constitutional and civil rights of Latinos, Asian Americans and non-U.S. citizens.
Biden rescinded both orders in one of his first acts as president. The Biden administration also has stopped efforts to produce neighborhood-level data that showed the citizenship and voting age of the population and is taking the time needed to make sure there are no problems with the 2020 census data’s quality, the Latino and Asian American groups said in court papers.
“Plaintiffs have concluded that their claims in the case are resolved,” they said in court papers.
In a separate federal lawsuit in San Jose, California, a coalition of civil rights groups and local governments that had sued the Trump administration over efforts to end the nation’s head count early said this week that they are making “significant progress” toward resolving the case. Both the coalition and government attorneys asked a judge on Thursday to give them two more weeks to reach a resolution.
The coalition of local governments and advocacy groups had sued the Trump administration for trying to end the once-a-decade head count a month early and to make sure the Census Bureau had enough time to crunch the numbers. They said ending the head count and data processing early would hurt minority communities.
According to critics, that damage includes a failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census questionnaire and a Trump order to figure out who is a citizen and who is in the U.S. illegally.
The census data are used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets and the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year. The state population counts from the 2020 census are set to be released later this month.
The Census Bureau is facing new lawsuits, though, from states over when it plans to release data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts. The states of Ohio and Alabama recently challenged the statistical agency’s decision to release redistricting numbers in August, at the earliest.
A federal judge has dismissed Ohio’s case, but the state is appealing. Last week, a three-judge panel was named to hear the Alabama case, which will fast-track it to the Supreme Court if there’s an appeal.