The revised lawsuit was filed on October 27, two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration and suspended an order from a district judge allowing the head count to continue through the end of the month. The coalition of local governments and advocacy groups had sued the Trump administration to keep the count from ending a month early and to extend the deadline for turning in apportionment numbers from Dec. 31 to the end of April 2021.
The Supreme Court decision allowed the Census Bureau to end field operations and start the process of crunching numbers ahead of the year-end deadline for turning in numbers used for divvying up congressional seats by state in a process called apportionment.
The Trump administration said in court papers last week that the courts should not interfere with efforts to meet the year-end deadline for turning in apportionment numbers now that the Supreme Court has ruled. Besides deciding how many congressional seats each state gets, in a process known as apportionment, the census helps determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending annually. “Census data is counted on to equitably distribute both power and money,” census historian Dan Bouk said in a Webinar on October 29 hosted by Reveal, Georgetown's Beeck Center on Social Impact and Innovation and Journalist's Resource.
The amended lawsuit argues that the Trump administration is pushing to finish data processing for the 2020 census by Dec. 31 so that the numbers used for apportionment are completed while Trump is still in office. That would allow the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to enforce a Trump directive seeking to exclude people living in the country illegally from the apportionment count, the lawsuit said.
Federal courts in New York and California have ruled Trump’s order unlawful and unconstitutional. Trump is appealing the New York case to the Supreme Court.
The coalition of local governments and advocacy groups says the Census Bureau doesn’t have enough time to crunch the numbers by Dec. 31, and the apportionment deadline should be moved to the end of next April.
KQED's Lakshmi Sarah contributed to this story.