Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a federal lawsuit to compel the U.S. Census Bureau to release population data relevant to Ohio’s upcoming congressional redistricting process, claiming COVID-19 is an insufficient reason for the delay in releasing data.
The lawsuit, State of Ohio v. Wynn Coggins, acting secretary of commerce; the U.S. Department of Commerce; Ron S. Jarmin, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and U.S. Census Bureau, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Feb. 25.
Federal law requires the Census Bureau to give all states their census data by March 31. On Feb. 12, the Census Bureau announced it will delay the release of census data until Sept. 30, citing the change due to COVID-19 delays.
“The federal government has chosen to drag its feet by delaying the release of census data instead of following the law,” Yost said in a news release. “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?”
A postponement until September means the Ohio Redistricting Commission will be unable to use the data in the 2021 redistricting process – a process created in 2018 through an Ohio constitutional amendment, according to the release.
“Laws cannot be arbitrarily changed by administrative fiat,” Yost stated. “Even if it’s inconvenient, the Census Bureau must do its job.”