WilmerHale Assists Brennan Center for Justice Obtain Release of “Unprecedented” Census Documents

WilmerHale Assists Brennan Center for Justice Obtain Release of “Unprecedented” Census Documents

Firm News

A pro bono team of WilmerHale lawyers has successfully represented the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law in its efforts to secure hundreds of internal records from the U.S. Department of Commerce and Census Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) related to potential interference in the 2020 Census during the Trump Administration.

On January 13, 2022, following a year of litigation led by the WilmerHale team, the Brennan Center released a report describing the most significant public records secured through this litigation, including a memorandum shared by senior officials at the Census Bureau citing “unprecedented” meddling by political appointees in the Census’ statistical process. This release has been the subject of reporting by numerous national media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, NPR, CNN, Rolling Stone Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, The Hill and HuffPost. It was also featured in a segment of The Late Show.

Starting in July 2020, WilmerHale aided the Brennan Center in the drafting and submission of the FOIA requests directed to the Commerce Department and Census Bureau. When the agencies failed to respond in a timely fashion, WilmerHale filed suit on behalf of the Brennan Center and obtained a preliminary injunction requiring expedited disclosure of responsive documents. In ordering production of the documents by a date certain, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that “[i]t is rare that any preliminary relief is appropriate in a FOIA case, but this is not a run-of-the-mill case.” Following months of negotiations over the improper withholding of certain categories of documents, the government disclosed hundreds more of previously redacted or withheld documents.

Patrick Carome, a WilmerHale partner, oversaw the firm’s pro bono team that successfully litigated and negotiated with the government and that helped the Brennan Center identify key documents. WilmerHale lawyers who worked on the matter alongside Carome included Benjamin Chapin, Mikayla Foster, Jared Grubow, Rieko Shepherd, and former WilmerHale attorneys Jonathan Brynes, Caitlin Monahan and Christian Ronald.