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Judges send Ohio's case against Census back to lower court

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Posted at 6:16 PM, May 18, 2021

An appellate court on Tuesday sent a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Census Bureau’s delay in releasing data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts back to a trial court and ordered a judge to come up with a remedy between the statistical agency and the state of Ohio.

A week after hearing oral arguments, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati said Ohio had standing to sue the Census Bureau over its decision to delay the release of redistricting data from March 31 to mid-August. The lower court had previously ruled that Ohio lacked standing and had dismissed the case.

Ohio appealed, saying the delay threatened its ability to meet redistricting deadlines approved by voters and set in its state constitution.

Ohio’s constitution requires, for the first time, an independent commission to finish redrawing legislative districts by Sept. 1. It sets a Sept. 30 deadline for the state’s General Assembly to complete a new map of congressional districts.

The appellate judges said the lower court “should treat this matter expediently and hold a hearing to determine what remedy (if any) is appropriate.”

A similar lawsuit was filed by the state of Alabama, with the added twist that the Cotton State’s case also challenges the Census Bureau’s use of a statistical method to protect people’s privacy. Alabama claims it will result in inaccurate numbers.