Jenner & Block

Fourth Circuit Revives Maryland-Based Census Suit

The firm secured a pro bono victory on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Prince George’s County, Maryland, and other plaintiffs that are challenging the federal government’s plans for the 2020 Census.  Co-counsel with the Rule of Law Clinic at Yale Law School, the firm argues that the Bureau’s deficient plans will lead to an undercount of communities of color, leading to inequities in political representation and federal funding.

Originally filed in 2018, NAACP et al. v. Bureau of the Census was dismissed in 2019 at the district court level.  On December 19, 2019, the Fourth Circuit reinstated the suit, remanding it back to the district court to reconsider the plaintiffs’ Enumeration Clause claims.  The unanimous three-judge panel concluded that the district court “erred in dismissing the plaintiffs’ Enumeration Clause claims as unripe, and in precluding the plaintiffs from filing an amended complaint regarding those claims after the defendants’ plans for the 2020 Census became final.”

Partner Jessica Ring Amunson argued the appeal with a student from the Yale Law Clinic.  The team also includes Partners Susan Kohlmann, Jeremy Creelan and Michael Ross; Special Counsel Seth Agata; Associates Jacob Alderdice, Amy Egerton-Wiley, Logan Gowdey, Alex Trepp, Matthew Phillips, Keturah James and David Clark; Law Clerk Andrew Whinery; and Paralegal Esmeralda Bako.

“This decision gets us closer to a more just 2020 Census and shines a light on the critical issues at stake in the decennial census,” Ms. Amunson said in a press release about the decision.

At the NAACP’s annual meeting in July 2019, the organization honored the team with its “Foot Soldier in the Sand Award” for its efforts in the case.

The NAACP suit is the second suit the firm has filed, pro bono, seeking to ensure that the census adequately counts hard-to-count populations.  The firm also represents the Center for Popular Democracy Action and the city of Newburgh, New York, in a suit that seeks an injunction that would require the government to implement a plan to ensure that hard-to-count populations will be enumerated.  Filed in November 2019, Center for Popular Democracy Action and City of Newburgh v. Bureau of the Census is pending.

TAGS: Appellate, Census, Litigation

PEOPLE: Jessica Ring Amunson, Susan J. Kohlmann, Michael W. Ross, Jeremy M. Creelan, Alex S. Trepp, Matthew J. Phillips, Jacob D. Alderdice, Amy Egerton-Wiley, Seth H. Agata, Logan J. Gowdey, David J. Clark

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