My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘lawsuit’

Pennsylvania to use the 2000 Census for redistricting: WHY?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Pennsylvanians are apparently living like its 1999. Here’s what the Courthouse News Service had to say:

In January, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said a 2011 redistricting plan establishing new districts based on fresh data from the 2010 census was unconstitutional.

That plan, proposed by the state’s five-person Legislative Reapportionment Commission, failed to adequately balance constitutional requirements that districts be compact, contiguous and roughly equal in population.

Of particular concern to the high court was a fourth requirement: that voting districts do not excessively fracture political subdivisions.

The state constitution says voting districts should divide counties, wards and municipalities only when absolutely necessary.

A group of 20 state senators who appealed the 2011 plan offered an alternative redistricting plan that, the group said, does a better job balancing these requirements, particularly when it comes to respecting the integrity of subdivisions.

In a 4-3 decision last month, the court called that plan “powerful evidence” that the commission could have done a better job balancing these factors, and remanded the plan to the commission for revision.

While the revisions are pending, the court directed Pennsylvania to govern its upcoming April 24 primary election with the 2001 redistricting plan, based on census data from 2000.

That directive prompted three federal lawsuits in late January and early February.

The plaintiffs – which include the majority leaders of the state Senate and House, the House speaker, and a Latino rights group – said it would be unconstitutional to use the old districts.

Louisiana vs. The Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, and Obama Administration

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

On November 14, 2011, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell ”filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to recover the congressional seat taken from Louisiana as a result of the 2010 Census. To properly apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Constitution requires that a census be taken every 10 years to count the number of lawful residents in each state. In the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau included illegal foreign nationals, along with holders of guest-worker visas and student visas, in the count of lawful residents of each state. As a result of the Census Bureau’s practice, states with large numbers of illegal foreign nationals gained congressional seats, while states with low numbers of illegal foreign nationals, like Louisiana, lost congressional seats.”

This sentiment was augmented by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch which took further action today:

Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Louisiana challenging a current federal policy in which “unlawfully present aliens” were counted in the 2010 Census (Louisiana v. Bryson).

The government used these census numbers to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and, as a result, the State of Louisiana lost a House seat to which it was entitled.  Louisiana is asking that the Supreme Court order the federal government to recalculate the 2010 apportionment of House seats based upon legal residents as the U.S. Constitution requires.

Judicial Watch’s brief was filed on January 13, 2012, in partnership with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in a lawsuit filed by the State of Louisiana against John Bryson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and Karen Lehman Hass, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  According to the brief:

Amici are concerned about the failure to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and the corrosive effect of this failure on our institutions and the rule of law.  Among the problems caused by this failure is a redistribution of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to States with large populations of unlawfully present aliens.

Amici respectfully submit that neither Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment, or any other provision of the Constitution authorize or permit the inclusion of unlawfully present aliens in the apportionment process.  As a result, this case raises issues critical not just to Louisiana, but to every State, every American citizen, and our federal system of government.

Judicial Watch argues that due to this Census Bureau policy at least five states will lose House seats to which they are entitled.  For example, based upon the Census Bureau’s calculation, Louisiana is being allocated only six House seats, as opposed to the seven that it would have been apportioned, were it not for the inclusion of illegal aliens and “non-immigrant foreign nationals,” encompassing holders of student visas and guest workers.  The brief also notes that the “apportionment, in turn, determines the apportionment of electors in the Electoral College for the next three presidential elections.”

Class Action Lawsuit Update

Friday, August 6th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com has been tracking the following lawsuit for quite some time. At first, we supported this suit, because it shows that the Census Bureau discriminated against people in the hiring process. However, when caucasian Census Bureau applicants who were rejected because of supposed criminal records tried to join the lawsuit, they were told that because they were not minorities, they were ineligible to join. If the Census Bureau’s hiring procedures discriminated against people with criminal records/arrests, then it did so against ALL people, not only minorities. Here’s today’s update from the AP:

NEW YORK — A lawsuit in New York City claims the U.S. Census Bureau discriminated in its hiring of more than a million temporary workers to conduct the 2010 census.

The lawsuit was filed by civil rights groups in federal court in Manhattan several months ago and was updated Thursday.

It says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warned the Census Bureau last year its hiring practices might be discriminatory. The lawsuit says the EEOC told the bureau its criminal background check policy might “run afoul” of the Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit accuses the bureau of illegally screening out applicants with often decades-old arrest records for minor offenses or those who were arrested but never convicted.

Another census lawsuit; this one focuses on race

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

From Giselle Springer-Douglas, the Seattle correspondent for Examiner.com:

A potentially controversial lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that on both the 2000 and 2010 Census forms, the U.S. Census Bureau’s and the Office of Management and Budget’s “representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive, and, therefore, fraudulent,” and that its “negligence contributes to a historical and sustained pattern of personally-mediated, institutional, and internalized racism in this country…”

The lawsuit, Koe v. U.S. Census Bureau, focuses on the 2000 and 2010 Census forms because the plaintiff, using the pseudonym “Jane Koe,” states that she participated in those Census periods by completing and returning the Census forms.

In her complaint, Koe requests a number of remedies, including a petition that the court order the defendants to notify every recipient of the 2010 Census form that “race in this country is defined by the Office of Management and Budget, reflects a social definition of race, and in no way conforms to any biological, anthropological or genetic criteria.”

In framing her complaint, Koe claims that verbiage on the 2000 Census site in a section entitled “Questions and Answers for Census 2000 Data on Race” acknowledges that race is merely a social construct (a concept that is the artifact of a particular group rather than the product of science).

Koe says that she had, up until recently, believed “race was a concept grounded in scientific fact” and attributes this belief partly to “the federal government’s historical propagation of the genetics-based race ‘fact.’” Koe argues that, “By failing to explicitly correct this erroneous belief, despite knowing that the general populace believes race to be based on scientific fact, the Defendants’ representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive and, therefore, fraudulent.”

As Koe is presently representing herself, the complaint is currently undergoing judicial review—a process that is standard for complaints filed by self-represented plaintiffs.

A copy of the complaint, originally filed July 14, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (case 10-CV-1142), can be found on Seattle, WA-based group I Am Malan’s website at http://www.iammalan.org/greatracecase.htm.

The MyTwoCensus.com verdict: This sounds like a farce that won’t go anywhere. Case closed?

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Class action lawsuit should include everyone, not only minorities

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Earlier this year, MyTwoCensus informed readers about a class action lawsuit that alleges that the Census Bureau discriminates in its hiring process against individuals who have been arrested even though they were never charged with a crime. MyTwoCensus.com subsequently received many inquiries from white/Caucasian people who were not hired by the Census Bureau for this reason and hoped to join this lawsuit and were told that because they were white/Caucasian they were unable to partake in the lawsuit. MyTwoCensus.com wrote to the lawyer in charge of the suit, Adam Klein, of the firm Golden Outten in New York to determine if this was true. Unfortunately, Mr. Klein confirmed that only minorities are eligible to participate in this lawsuit. This is a travesty because this lawsuit itself is now discriminatory against any non-minority who wasn’t hired by the Census Bureau because of alleged (though unproven) misconduct. MyTwoCensus encourages Golden Outten to open this suit to everyone, because if justice is served, it should be served for all.

Strange news of the day: Cross-dressing Census Bureau employee attacks disabled woman in Houston

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Read the article here for more details. Apparently the worker in question is now in a psychiatric hospital…

FYI: http://www.censusdiscriminationlawsuit.com/

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The above site provides details about the recent class action hiring lawsuit. Ah, America’s lawyers embracing technology to make a quick buck. Love it.

New Jersey city files lawsuit against the Census Bureau

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

It’s getting pretty trendy to file lawsuits against the Census Bureau. Here’s another one from New Jersey:

Irvington files suit against Census bureau

By Richard Khavkine/For The Star-Ledger

April 20, 2010, 5:10AM

IRVINGTON – Residents in an apartment complex of more than 1,700 households did not receive their Census forms, and township officials, fearing the loss of millions of federal dollars, have sued the Census Bureau alleging a breach of its constitutional mandate.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, seeks a court order compelling the agency to send a team of workers to the Maple Gardens apartments, a four-tower complex near Springfield and Maple avenues that is home to about 5,000 people.

According to recent estimates, the gated community’s residents could comprise as much as 9 percent of the township’s entire population.

“I’m very concerned,” Mayor Wayne Smith said Monday. “That is a glaring omission.”

Although its ostensible purpose is to count the population, the Census also helps policy makers determine how to disburse $400 billion in federal funding each year.

“Dollars tend to be commensurate with your population,” Smith said, alluding to federal funds that help pay for facilities and services, such as road construction projects, job training centers and schools.

According to the latest American Community Survey, which tracks demographic trends between Censuses, Irvington’s population dipped to about 56,000 in 2008, a 60-year low. The township, hit hard by foreclosures, had a population of 60,695 a decade ago, according to the 2000 Census.

“Who knows what they missed in the rest of the township?” said township attorney, Marvin T. Braker, adding, “You can’t exclude that many people. It’s just fundamentally unfair.”

The suit also seeks an extension of the April 16 deadline to mail in the forms.

A Census spokeswoman said the agency has contingency plans to help it account for large swaths of populations that might have been missed, such as that cited by the township. One possible solution would be to set up a Census station in the buildings’ lobbies.

“One way we try to cover all bases would be to set up a table in the lobby,” said Yolanda Finley, who had not seen the suit and could not comment on the township’s allegation that no forms were mailed to the complex. “There are all kinds of arrangements made to count in a building that size.”

Smith, though, said he was skeptical.

“I’m not assured that what they’re going to do is going to be enough,” he said. “Whatever they need to do, they need to do more, because they made the mistake.”

According to the Census Bureau, it costs 42 cents to obtain a mailed-back Census form. Getting a household’s responses in person if residents have not mailed back the form costs upward of $57.

The township’s Census response rate is currently 44 percent, below the nation’s 69 percent rate, according to the bureau’s most recent figures.

Finley said that residents who had not received Census forms could call (866) 877-6868 to have one mailed.

New York Times Editorial Criticizes Census Bureau Hiring

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The following New York Times editorial concerns the class action lawsuit that we reported on last week. For many months now, MyTwoCensus.com has criticized 2010 Census hiring practices. Here’s the editorial:

The Census Bureau is hiring a million or more people to assist with the 2010 count. It is temporary work, but it pays well. With national unemployment at nearly 10 percent, it looks like an excellent opportunity. That is unless you are one of the nearly 50 million Americans with any arrest or conviction on record.

A new class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of applicants who say they were unfairly turned down for census jobs based on an opaque screening policy that relies on F.B.I. checks for any criminal histories. Those checks are notoriously unreliable. A 2006 federal report found that half of them were inaccurate or out of date.

The Census Bureau is vague about what makes someone ineligible. In Congressional testimony, it suggested that it is excluding people who have been convicted of crimes involving violence and dishonesty. The bureau’s Web site seems to say that applicants whose background checks turn up any arrest — no matter how trivial, distant in time, irrelevant to the job — receive a letter advising them that they can remain eligible only if they produce “official court documentation” bearing on the case within 30 days. Incredibly, the letter does not identify the alleged criminal activity. Applicants must prove eligibility, even if they don’t know why they were flagged.

Official court records are often unobtainable for the millions of people whose convictions have been sealed or expunged or for people who have been arrested and released because of lack of evidence or mistaken arrest. This problem falls heaviest on black and Hispanic communities where stop-and-frisk policies and indiscriminate arrests are common.

The hiring problem is not limited to the Census Bureau. After 9/11, Congress required port workers to undergo F.B.I. background checks to keep their jobs. Last year, a study by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for workers, found that the government had mistakenly denied credentials to tens of thousands of those workers.

States and cities are wisely revising employment policies. The federal government needs to develop a fair and transparent screening system for job applicants and a more effective appeals process. Congress must also require the F.B.I. to verify the criminal records — and find missing data before issuing background checks.

Does this lawsuit against the Census Bureau have legitimacy? Perhaps

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

H/t to former MyTwoCensus editor Emily Babay for informing me of the following lawsuit filed against the Census Bureau for its hiring practices. The Philadelphia Inquirer brings us the following:

Phila. woman at center of census lawsuit

By Jane M. Von Bergen

Paying $17.75 an hour, U.S. Census jobs, though temporary, are attractive in an economy where unemployment is stuck at 9.7 percent. But the Census Bureau’s screening policies, designed to safeguard the public, end up discriminating against minorities, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

That’s because the bureau has set up an “arbitrary barrier to employment” for any person with an arrest record, “no matter how trivial or disconnected from the requirements of the job,” the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, says. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is named as the defendant.

The national suit, filed by Outten & Golden L.L.P. in New York and a coalition of public-interest organizations, seeks class-action status on behalf of those turned down for a job if they were arrested and not convicted, or convicted for an offense irrelevant to the job.

“The U.S. Census Bureau’s top priority is the safety of both our workforce and the American public,” Commerce Department spokesman Nicholas Kimball responded. “Americans must be confident that, if . . . a census taker must come to their door to count them, we’ve taken steps to ensure their safety.”

Kimball declined to comment on the suit.

One of the two lead plaintiffs, Evelyn Houser, 69, of North Philadelphia, thinks she is qualified to fill one of the 1.2 million census positions. That’s because Houser worked for the census before, in 1990.

“What’s the difference between then and now?” she asked in an interview Tuesday. “It’s like a slap in the face.”

The difference, said her lawyer, Sharon Dietrich with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, is the government’s cumbersome screening process.

Computers kick back any application with an arrest record, requiring more documentation, but the Census Bureau doesn’t make it clear what documentation is required, Dietrich said.

The discrimination occurs because the arrest and conviction rates of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans exceed those of whites, the suit says. Compounding the problem, it says, is that one in three arrests do not lead to prosecution or conviction, yet the bureau’s system does not readily distinguish between arrests and convictions.

“The processes are screening out any kind of criminal case, no matter what,” Dietrich said.

“If you were arrested years ago for a minor offense, you are asked to comply with the same burdensome process as if you had been released from jail last week after committing a murder,” she said,

Plaintiffs’ attorney Samuel Miller, of Outten & Golden, estimates that as many as one million applicants may have been caught up in the process, with tens of thousands unfairly deterred or excluded from employment.

In 1981, Houser was a 39-year-old mother raising four children on welfare and food stamps. Her monthly check was several days away, but she was out of food when, going outside to take out the trash, she found a check next to the Dumpster.

“I went home and told my kids, ‘God sent me a piece of paper that says we’re going to eat tonight.’ ”

Houser shouldn’t have done it, but she tried to cash the check. She was arrested. Instead of being convicted, she was placed in alternative rehabilitation program. Her record remains clean, Dietrich said.

In 1990, Houser got a job with the census. Last year, she decided to apply again and passed a qualifying test.

A month or so later, the Census Bureau sent her a letter, asking her for documentation. The way she read it, her fingerprints would suffice, so she had them taken and sent them in the next day.

The bureau rejected her because, it said, she hadn’t sent the right documentation. Dietrich called the bureau’s communications confusing.

Since then, Houser has been involved in a long appeals process, which culminated in the filing of the suit.

Houser, who lives in subsidized housing, estimated that 25 percent of her working-age neighbors are unemployed. They are “just existing,” she said. “It’s just survival.”

She’s helping her neighbors find a path to employment, Houser said. “I’m a little gray-haired old lady and I’m trying to lead them in a better way.”