University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Committee on Oversight and Reform v. Barr IM-DC-0086
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-03557 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
This is a case about the Trump Administration’s refusal to comply with the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoenas for documents related to its investigation into the Trump Administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. On November 26, 2019, the House ... read more >
This is a case about the Trump Administration’s refusal to comply with the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoenas for documents related to its investigation into the Trump Administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. On November 26, 2019, the House Committee filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the Attorney General and the Secretary of Commerce, alleging that they unlawfully refused to comply with the Committee’s subpoenas. By doing so, they allegedly acted in violation of the Committee’s Article I powers. Represented by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of General Counsel, the plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief to compel the defendants to immediately produce the subpoenaed documents. They claimed that these documents “go to the heart” of its investigation into the proposed census citizenship question and are thus necessary for the Committee to fulfill its oversight and legislative duties regarding the census. The case was assigned to Judge Randolph Daniel Moss.

On December 17, 2019, the plaintiff filed a motion for expedited summary judgment on all counts of the complaint. Five days prior, on December 12, 2019, the defendants had moved to hold the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction or expedited summary judgment in abeyance pending the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Committee on the Judiciary of the United House of Representatives v. McGahn (1:19-cv-02379). Because the McGahn case raised similar issues regarding the court’s authority to hear the suit, the defendants argued that this decision would control the present matter and could either eliminate this case or dramatically reduce the number of issues to be resolved. The court denied the defendant’s motion on December 13, 2019. Subsequently, on January 14, 2020, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

During this time, the parties continued to negotiate and issued a number of joint status reports about certain documents sought by the House Committee. The plaintiffs claimed that these documents were urgently needed for its investigation and accused the defendants of attempting to run out the clock in order to shield themselves from scrutiny. Meanwhile, the defendants argued that the confidentiality interests implicated by these documents outweighed the interests served by their disclosure.

In the separate McGahn case, the D.C. Circuit issued a decision on February 28, 2020. The Barr defendants argued that this required the dismissal of the present matter. However, on March 16, 2020, the D.C. Circuit vacated this McGahn judgment and granted rehearing en banc. The D.C. Circuit issued another opinion on the McGahn case on August 31, 2020, in which it held that a House committee lacked a cause of action to enforce its subpoena to a former Executive Branch official. As a result of this order, back in the Barr case, the defendants claimed that the D.C. Circuit’s August decision in McGahn made clear that the plaintiffs were not entitled to the relief they sought here. The parties continued to file joint status reports regarding the documents sought.

However, the McGahn plaintiffs petitioned the D.C. Circuit for another rehearing en banc. On October 6, 2020, the Barr court stayed its case pending that decision. Two weeks later, the McGahn court granted another rehearing en banc on October 15, 2020. On the same day, the D.C. District Court ordered that the Barr case would remain stayed pending the D.C. Circuit’s merits decision in McGahn. The case is ongoing.

Sarah Bender - 02/26/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Enumerations Clause
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff
Defendant(s) U.S. Attorney General
U.S. Secretary of Commerce
Plaintiff Description U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Reform
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 11/26/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  2020 Census Litigation
(The Brennan Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
01/19/2021
1:19-cv-03557-RDM
IM-DC-0086-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
11/26/2019
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0086-0002.pdf | Detail
D.D.C.
09/12/2020
Joint Status Report [ECF# 49]
IM-DC-0086-0001.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barbero, Megan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001
Grogg, Adam Anderson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-9000
Johnson, Nathaniel D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-9000
Letter, Douglas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-9000
Moody, Anna Augusta (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-0002 | IM-DC-0086-9000
Morse, Josephine T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-9000
O'Neil, David A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-0002 | IM-DC-0086-9000
O'Neill, Laura E (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001 | IM-DC-0086-0002 | IM-DC-0086-9000
Tatelman, Todd B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Burnham, James M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-9000
Feldon, Gary Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-9000
Gilligan, James J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-9000
Myers, Steven Andrew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-9000
Shapiro, Elizabeth J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0086-9000

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