President Trump’s plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census continue to roil the legal world, with a federal appeals court on Tuesday sending the case back to a lower court to investigate whether the administration lied about its decision-making.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also suggested it may halt the Census Bureau’s plans to finalize the 2020 questionnaire this weekend in order to give the lower-court judge more time to sort through the complicated issues involved.
The moves come even though the Supreme Court is expected to rule either Wednesday or Thursday on the legality of the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question in.
The Justice Department said that was a reason for the 4th Circuit to leave matters alone.
But the appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, said it would pick at the scab.
At issue is new information that a GOP voting strategist, now deceased, had suggested that asking a citizenship question on the census could help Republicans maximize their political potential when the next round of lines are drawn for congressional and state legislative maps.
The Trump administration had told the courts it added the question in because it wanted better data to enforce the voting rights act, which is a different explanation altogether.
Judge George J. Hazel, an Obama appointee to a district court in Maryland, ruled last week that the new information raised a “substantial issue” that needed to be resolved.
He suggested the case should be returned to him to allow for limited discovery.
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