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Census bureau sued to stop gathering of citizen population data

A federal lawsuit brought last week by Latino and immigrants' rights groups is seeking to stop the Trump administration from publicizing estimates of the citizen population along with the 2020 census results.

Effectively blocked by the Supreme Court from putting a citizenship question on the census, President Trump has ordered the Commerce Department to come up with numbers using existing government records – in time for delivery to the states along with the detailed population figures.

While congressional districts have to be drawn based on total population, according to a plain-text reading of the Constitution, there's some legal opening for states to draw their own legislative boundaries based on citizenship. That would shrink power in immigrant communities and cities to the benefit of whiter and more rural areas – another route to the sort of partisan gerrymandering that democracy reformers decry.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Maryland, says the collection of citizenship data for this purpose violates the Constitution's Equal Protection clause and federal administrative law. "Defendants' actions should also be enjoined because they are motivated by racial animus, are discriminatory toward Latinos and non-citizens, and are the result of a partisan conspiracy intended to dilute the representation of non-citizens and Latinos," the lawsuit says.

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The suit was first reported in Talking Points Memo. The government had not responded as of Monday afternoon.

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