Ohio AG sues Census Bureau over delay in release of census data for legislative redistricting

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Thursday announced the filing of a federal lawsuit before the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the the US Census Bureau over delay in the release of population data relevant to Ohio’s upcoming congressional redistricting process.

The complaint states that the bureau has unlawfully ignored the statutory deadline for providing census population data to the states as laid down by 13 U.S.C. §141(c).

On February 12, the bureau announced that it will deliver Public Law 94-171, which requires it to provide states the data required to conduct legislative redistricting, by September 30, instead of the original deadline of March 31. The bureau cited COVID-19 related delays and “prioritising the delivery of the apportionment results” as the reasons for its failure to meet the deadline.

The delay in delivering decennial census data to the state of Ohio as the state “works to complete its redistricting process by constitutionally prescribed deadlines,” according to the complaint, will cause irreparable harm to it.

Yost said in a statement:

The federal government has chosen to drag its feet by delaying the release of census data instead of following the law. The people of Ohio have found ways to meet their responsibilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – adapting how we run businesses, caring for loved ones, home schooling children – why should the government create a double standard? Laws cannot be arbitrarily changed by administrative fiat, Even if its inconvenient, the Census Bureau must do its job.

The state has also filed a preliminary injunction motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 to stop the bureau from delaying the release of the data.