(The Center Square) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost's appeal of a decision in his lawsuit to push for a quicker release of key census information is moving forward.
State law requires new election 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.
Yost filed the lawsuit in late February against President Joe Biden's administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, arguing the administration is dragging its feet and laws cannot be arbitrarily changed. He asked for information to be released by March 31.
Yost said Tuesday via Twitter that oral arguments in front of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will be May 12.
Yost also tweeted the government admitted in one of its court responses “it could provide the data in July, even though it won’t give it up till Sept. 30.”
A federal judge dismissed Yost’s lawsuit in late March, saying he failed to demonstrate how the state had been harmed by delaying the release. Yost appealed.
The U.S. Census Bureau released reapportionment figures last week that showed Ohio would lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and the state’s population growth was slow over the last decade. That information, however, only involved data down to the state level.
Census officials also announced data needed for redistricting would come in September, which is too late to meet Ohio law.
Ohio voters created the Ohio Redistricting Commission in 2018 for districting for the General Assembly. The commission consists of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and appointments from 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 bureau releases redistricting information.
Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, is considering a constitutional amendment that gives the state some flexibility with dates in certain circumstances.
The Ohio Black Caucus raised concerns the potential amendment lacked protection for the public and would create unfair districts.
Former President Donald Trump's administration requested a delay in reporting in August after the U.S. Census Bureau suspended data collection last March. It eventually restarted collection efforts and planned on sending redistricting data to states by July 31, 2021.