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Case Name Kravitz v. United States Department of Commerce PB-MD-0005
Docket / Court 8:18-cv-01041-GJH ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Brennan Center for Justice
Case Summary
This case challenged a Trump Administration decision by the United States Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This lawsuit was filed on April 11, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by seven U.S. citizens who regularly use public services that ... read more >
This case challenged a Trump Administration decision by the United States Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This lawsuit was filed on April 11, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by seven U.S. citizens who regularly use public services that receive federal funding -- funding, they explained, that could be negatively altered depending on the results of the decennial census count. The case was assigned to District Judge George Jarrod Hazel.

The plaintiffs sued the Commerce Secretary, the Deputy Commerce Secretary, the United States Department of Commerce and its agency, the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau’s Director, and its Deputy Director. Represented by private counsel, they proceeded under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA” - 5 U.S.C. § 551) and the Declaratory Judgments Act (28 U.S.C. § 2201). Plaintiffs claimed the inclusion of the citizenship question violated the Census Clause of the Constitution (the "Actual Enumeration" clause of Article I, § 2 and the Fourteenth Amendment's "Apportionment Clause") because the question would cause a disproportionate undercount of immigrants, non-citizens, those with limited English proficiency, and individuals of Hispanic or Latino origin. This disproportionate undercount would deprive plaintiffs of representation in congressional, state, and local governing bodies, and access to social services whose funding is based on the Census. Plaintiffs also claimed the Census Bureau’s failure to provide independent justification for the position that the citizenship data was required to enforce the Voting Rights Act, coupled with the Bureau’s failure to investigate the impact the citizenship question could have on response rates, was “arbitrary and capricious” and “contrary to law” under the APA.

The plaintiffs sought three forms of relief: (1) injunctive relief to enjoin the defendants from asking a citizenship question on the 2020 Census; (2) a declaration that the addition of the citizenship question violated the Census Clause; and (3) attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs filed amended complaints on May 3, September 5, and December 28, 2018. The last amended complaint differed from the original complaint by adding several more plaintiffs and an allegation that the government’s inclusion of the citizenship question violated the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection guarantee because it was motivated by animus against Latinos, Asian-Americans, immigrant communities of color, and noncitizens.

The government moved to dismiss this case on June 6, 2018, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing; that the political question doctrine barred claims regarding violations of the Actual Enumeration and Apportionment Clauses; and that courts could not review the Secretary’s decision under the APA. On August 22, 2018 Judge Hazel denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs had standing, that the Secretary’s actions were reviewable, and that the political question doctrine did not bar the claims. 336 F.Supp.3d 545 (D. Md. 2018). In the same order denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Hazel granted plaintiffs’ motion for discovery, requiring that the defendants provide the same discovery as defendants were ordered to provide in another lawsuit over the 2020 Census, State of New York v. United States Department of Commerce (Docket No. 18-cv-2921). The Clearinghouse entry for the NY case can be found here.

After Judge Hazel denied the government’s motion to dismiss, the government filed a motion for summary judgment on November 12, 2018. Judge Hazel denied this motion on December 19, 2018. 355 F. Supp. 3d 256.

Ruling on a joint motion, Judge Hazel consolidated this case with a similar case, La Unión Del Pueblo Entero v. Ross (Docket No. 8:18-cv-1041), on December 19. Information about that case, is here.

The bench trial in this matter began on January 22, 2019. On April 5, 2019, Judge Hazel issued a memorandum opinion containing the Court’s Finding of Facts and Conclusion of Law from the bench trial. Judge Hazel found that the decision to add the citizenship question by the Census Bureau was arbitrary and capricious under the APA, and that the government’s actions violated the constitution’s Enumeration Clause. However, Judge Hazel held that the Plaintiffs in this case did not meet the burden to show a Due Process Clause violation. Nonetheless, based on the harm to the Plaintiffs identified in the Enumeration Clause violation, the Judge issued a nationwide injunction precluding the citizenship question from being added to the census. 366 F. Supp. 3d 681. On April 8, 2019, the government appealed the final judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court heard arguments in another case challenging the citizenship question, Department of Commerce v. New York, on April 23, 2019 (more information on that case can be found via this link).

On June 3, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking relief from the district court's April 5 decision with regards to the claims based on the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. The plaintiffs contended that documents belonging to Thomas Hofeller, a Republican strategist, provided newfound evidence that the citizenship question was added in order to dilute the representation of Hispanics to the political advantage of Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. The plaintiffs believed this new evidence would bolster their previously lacking claims. On June 19, 2019, Judge Hazel granted the plaintiffs' motion and set aside the court's previous ruling on these two claims. 382 F. Supp. 3d 393. Additionally, the Fourth Circuit also granted a separate motion filed by the plaintiffs' and remanded the entire case back to the district court for the limited purpose of adjudicating the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 issues. 771 Fed. App'x 323. Back in the district court, plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction on June 26, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2019, in Department of Commerce v. New York that, while the secretary had the power to add the citizenship question to the census, the justifications provided for doing so appeared pretextual and thus were an apparent violation of the APA. The court remanded that case back down to the district court for further inquiry into the motives for adding the question, while letting the injunction issued by the district court in that case against the citizenship question stand.

Judge Hazel permanently enjoined the government from asking the citizenship question on the 2020 census in an order dated July 16, 2019. The remaining issues pending in the Fourth Circuit were remanded back to the district court the same day after the government moved to voluntarily dismiss the appeal. A notice of settlement for attorneys’ fees was entered by the parties on September 30, 2019. Because the census is now complete, this case is closed.

Michael Beech - 02/22/2019
John Duffield - 06/24/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Enumerations Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Funding
Government Services (specify)
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Record-keeping
Immigration/Border
Status/Classification
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Bureau of the Census
Plaintiff Description 7 US citizens from Prince George's County, Maryland and the State of Arizona, who regularly use public services that receive federal public funding (roads, schools, and transportation). Each Plaintiff lives in areas of his or her state with higher populations of people likely to be "undercounted" if the citizenship question were on the census.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Brennan Center for Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2019 - 2021
Filed 04/11/2018
Case Closing Year 2021
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PB-MD-0006 : La Unión Del Pueblo Entero v. Ross (D. Md.)
PB-CA-0049 : California v. Ross (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Kravitz v. United States Department of Commerce
Brennan Center for Justice
Date: Jul. 15, 2019
By: Brennan Center for Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Appeals court sends census case to lower court to review discrimination claims
The Hill
Date: Jun. 25, 2019
By: Jacqueline Thomsen
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Calendar of Upcoming Deadlines and Hearings for Census 2020 Cases
Date: Mar. 29, 2019
(Brennan Center for Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  2020 Census Litigation
(The Brennan Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Md.
07/12/2021
8:18-cv-01041
PB-MD-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Md.
04/11/2018
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MD-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Md.
08/22/2018
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 48] (336 F.Supp.3d 545)
PB-MD-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Md.
12/28/2018
Memorandum Opinion Denying Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 84] (102 Fed.R.Serv.3d 646)
PB-MD-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Md.
12/28/2018
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 86]
PB-MD-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hazel, George Jarrod (D. Md.) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-0002 | PB-MD-0005-0003 | PB-MD-0005-9000 | PB-MD-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arvelo, Jose E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-9000
Cho, Dustin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-0004 | PB-MD-0005-9000
Duke, Benjamin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-0001 | PB-MD-0005-0004 | PB-MD-0005-9000
Duraiswamy, Shankar (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-0001 | PB-MD-0005-0004 | PB-MD-0005-9000
Frodle, Amee M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Grant, Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Hobel, Lawrence (California) show/hide docs
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Lopez, Burth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Nunes, Bianca (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Saenz, Thomas A. (California) show/hide docs
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Thomas, Tina M. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
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Tilak, Karun A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Coyle, Garrett Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Ehrlich, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Enlow, Courtney (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Federighi, Carol (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Gardner, Joshua Edward (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Shumate, Brett (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Tomlinson, Martin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Andriola, Eri (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Bernhardt, Julia Doyle (Maryland) show/hide docs
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Cedarbaum, Jonathan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Gomez Hernandez, Julia Alejandra (California) show/hide docs
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Gray, Daniel M. (Virginia) show/hide docs
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Grimm, John Robert (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Guehenno, Claire M. (New York) show/hide docs
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Hazel, George Jarrod (Maryland) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-0002 | PB-MD-0005-0003 | PB-MD-0005-9000 | PB-MD-0005-9000
Hethmon, Michael M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Hulett, Denise M. (California) show/hide docs
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Minnis, Terry Ao (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Pellegrini, Tanya G. (California) show/hide docs
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Perales, Nina (Texas) show/hide docs
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Senteno, Andrea E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Shah, Niyati (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Singh, Tejinder (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Tansey, Jacob (Maryland) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-9000
Yang, John C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MD-0005-9000

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