Pro Bono Team Files Amicus Brief in New York-Based Census Citizenship Case

Manatt’s pro bono team and its partners filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the city of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration in Department of Commerce v. New York, 18-966, a case arising in New York federal court in which the lower court ruled the Administrative Procedure Act bars the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Manatt team is led by John Libby, investigations and white collar defense leader, and includes partners Barry Landsberg, Ron Turovsky, Emil Petrossian and John McGuinness and associates Ana Guardado and Andrew Case.

The amicus brief was filed in conjunction with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Public Counsel and argues that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was both unconstitutional and arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Oral argument in the Supreme Court is set for April 23, and a decision is expected before the end of June, when the Census Bureau has advised that 2020 Census forms must be printed.

“The Court has asked the parties in the New York case to brief and argue the question of whether the addition of a citizenship question violates the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause even though that claim was not tried in New York,” said Libby. “As amici we can present evidence from our trial record that the question will clearly violate the Constitution and will lead to an undercount of Latino and immigrant communities.”

The team’s filing comes on the heels of its significant victory in northern California in March. In response to a lawsuit filed by Manatt and its pro bono partners, Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California ruled that the addition of a citizenship question would violate federal and constitutional law.

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