by J.D. Davidson
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has reversed a trial court decision and will allow Ohio’s lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau to move forward.
Attorney General Dave Yost sued in February for the bureau to release information to allow the state to meet constitutional deadlines to redraw congressional and state district lines. A district court dismissed the suit in March.
“Bringing this suit forced the U.S. Census Bureau to admit it can provide us the data sooner than originally stated, which has been our goal all along,” Yost said. “Now we are asking the court to hold them to their word.”
The U.S. Census Bureau told the court it could have the data available by Aug. 16, but in its ruling, the court said the state has no assurance the government will live up to the promise.
“Although Ohio would prefer to get its data sooner, Ohio agrees that an August 16 delivery would allow it to complete its redistricting process,” the ruling read. “But Ohio currently has no assurance that the federal government will live up to its most recent representation. So at the very least, monitoring by the district court could move the proceedings along and provide Ohio with some redress.”
The court also said the district court should treat the case expediently.
Ohio law requires new district maps to be drawn and public input to be received by a certain date, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s timeline to release needed information would force the law to be broken by Ohio officials.
The bureau released some information in late April that showed Ohio would lose a seat in the U.S. House and the state’s population growth was slow over the past decade. That information, however, only involved data down to the state level.
Ohio voters created in 2018 the Ohio Redistricting Commission for districting for the General Assembly. The commission consists of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.
It also requires a Sept. 30 deadline for drawing lines and a first vote on state maps 29 days after the U.S. Census Bureau releases redistricting information.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.