Judge dismisses push for faster U.S. Census results
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By Andrew J. Tobias
Cleveland.com
COLUMBUS — A federal judge has dismissed Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit that sought to force the U.S.

Census Bureau to provide its results by a March 31 legal deadline, six months earlier than Census officials said was possible.

Judge Thomas M. Rose cited legal precedent he said barred him from ordering someone to “jump higher, run faster, or lift more than she is physically capable.”


He also wrote Yost, who had sued because the Census data is needed for Ohio to meet state constitutional deadlines in its process of drawing new political maps, failed to demonstrate Ohio had been harmed by the delay in the release of the Census information.

Yost, a Republican sued last month, saying the delay would cause the state to miss legal redistricting deadlines in the state Constitution.

The lawsuit sought to force the bureau to release the data by March 31 legal deadline, or at least sooner than the date previously shared by census officials.

Census data is normally delivered to states by March 31. But citing the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau announced earlier this month it could be as late as Sept. 30 before the data is ready.

Rose said state lawmakers could use other data if they wanted to under the state constitution.

“Ohio has not established that it cannot accomplish its redistricting in the time that remains between the unavoidably delayed results of the 2020 Census and its 2022 elections,” Rose wrote.

“The Census Bureau intends to release the decennial redistricting data for the entire country by the end of September 2021. Ohio may well be able to redraw its districts by the time of its legislative and congressional primary and general elections in 2022 using census data released in September.”

“The fact that the census data is not available to Ohio on the schedule it prefers, does not harm the State if it can still redistrict by the time of its next elections. If Ohio cannot meet the schedule for redistricting using the census data once it is released, there are alternatives it can pursue until the State can enact a plan.”

A message has been left with Yost seeking comment.

Ohio this year will be using a new redistricting process, approved by voters as separate state constitutional amendments in 2015 and 2018, aimed at creating more bipartisan, competitive districts in an effort to end gerrymandering.

The first deadline in the state’s new multi-step redistricting process is Sept. 1, while another series of deadlines for drawing congressional maps begins on Sept. 30, under constitutional amendments approved by voters.

Yost’s lawsuit said state leaders under the Ohio Constitution would be forced to use “alternative data” - legal experts have suggested this could be census estimates or commercially available mapping data - if the U.S. Census data isn’t available.

But state legislative leaders have said they plan to finish maps by the end of the year, believing a judge hearing any legal challenge to the redistricting process will grant them flexibility on the deadlines.