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Congressman Robert Aderholt Files Suit Against the United States Census Bureau

March 10, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) joined Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in filing suit against the United States Census Bureau, specifically the Bureau’s use of differential privacy.  Congressman Aderholt serves as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science.  The United States Census Bureau is part of the Department of Commerce.  A copy of the complaint can be found here:PDF iconFINAL Census II File-Stamped & Signed Complaint 3.10.21[2].pdf

“I am pleased to join with Attorney General Steve Marshall in fighting this unconstitutional practice by the United States Census Bureau.  The Census is only carried out once every ten years and is vital for redistricting, federal allocation of tax dollars and for many other public and private uses.  Therefore, it is critical that the numbers be as accurate as possible and not be simply generated by computer algorithms and guess work.  The bureau’s practice of “differential privacy” is just that, guess work.”


“Differential privacy applies a statistical algorithm to the census data that scrambles the data to minimize the chances of identifying any individual person.  However, the problem is that when the data gets scrambled, it also becomes inaccurate and useless.”


“For example, a census block in Gadsden, Alabama might have 100 people in it.  50 of them are white, 25 are African American and 25 are Hispanic.  But when the Census Bureau puts those numbers through the algorithm, suddenly those numbers become 75 people with 55 of them white, 1 African American and 19 Hispanics.   Another example of this practice that the Bureau has produced shows a block of single-family suburban homes, that are exclusively occupied by children, with no adults.  Either there are children running households all alone, or the data is wrong. Imagine the effect this will have on school district lines.


Furthermore, rural areas will be affected the most, because the smaller the population of an area the more the data will be skewed in order to ensure privacy according to this policy.


“The 2020 Census data has been illegally delayed and this practice of differential privacy seems to be playing a role.  This is not a partisan issue and concern has been expressed by members of both parties.  We are calling on the court to address this issue expeditiously so we can proceed on the original timetable.”