In what figures to be the first of several efforts to block President Donald Trump’s recent order on how electoral districts will be drawn after the 2020 census, the national good government group Common Cause filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, DC yesterday.
As NPR reported:
Filed on Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the complaint was released two days after Trump issued a memo calling to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country that is used to redistribute seats in the House of Representatives.
The Constitution — which empowers Congress, not the president, with final authority over the census — requires a once-a-decade count of the “whole number of persons in each state” in order to determine how to reapportion congressional seats and, by extension, Electoral College votes.
Trump, however, has ordered information to be produced that would allow him to exclude the number of immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization from the latest state population counts that the president is legally required to deliver to Congress after the census is complete.”
This is from a news release from Common Cause:
Common Cause v. Trump seeks a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the President, as well as the Department of Commerce, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The four-count complaint alleges violations of several different Constitutional protections and federal statutory requirements related to the census count and the apportionment of congressional districts. The complaint makes clear that the President’s memorandum “is the culmination of a years-long effort to transfer political power en masse from voters of color—chiefly, but not exclusively, Latino voters—to ‘Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.’”
…The complaint charges the Administration with violating the U.S. Constitution – specifically, Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution as amended by Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and related statutes requiring that every resident be counted in the census and included in the basis for reapportioning congressional districts. Further, the complaint outlines the Administration’s violations of the Equal Protection guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by diluting a voter’s vote based on where they live and by taking an adverse action against residents on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin.
In addition to Common Cause, the plaintiffs include the cities of Atlanta, Georgia and Patterson, New Jersey, the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (a nonprofit refugee advocacy group), and individual Latino, African American, Asian American and other voters.
Earlier this week, Common Cause issued a statement decrying the Trump order and tying to ongoing GOP efforts here in North Carolina to engage in partisan gerrymandering. As the statement put it:
This memorandum by President Trump is a blatant attempt to skew how electoral districts are drawn, instill fear and chaos in immigrant communities, and send a message to his white supremacist base. Based on records uncovered by Common Cause v. Lewis litigation, the memorandum is part of an ongoing partisan effort led by the Trump Administration to whitewash political representation, by removing and silencing the fastest growing populations of color – Latinx and Asian Americans and other immigrant populations.
According to the NPR story, other advocacy groups are lining up to file court challenges to the Trump order, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Click here to read the Common Cause complaint.