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A new order by a federal judge in Maryland sets up a potential new block against the Trump Administration's plans to add a citizenship questionnaire to the coming 2020 census.
Recent developments in legal battle over the highly contested issue could complicate the census agency's plans to complete census questionnaires and begin printing paper forms for the national head count by July 1.
Three federal judges, including the US district judge George Hazel of Maryland, have already issued Decisions that block the question: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" But a ruling from the Supreme Court, which is expected to weigh in soon, could lift these blocks while leaving two claims in Maryland-based lawsuits unresolved.
The Trump administration says it will include the issue of public education forms to better enforce part of the voting law.
The plaintiffs' lawyers at Covington & Burling and other groups claim that files recently uncovered from the hard drive of a deceased republican redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller show that the administration intended to respond to the issue of giving Republicans and non-Spanish white people have a political advantage in drawing new voting districts after the 2020 census.
The applicants – led by a group of residents of Maryland, Arizona, Texas and other states such as the Texas-based community of La Unión del Pueblo Entero – have argued that the administration intends to discriminate against immigrant communists by adding the issue of the munitions of color and that administration officials conspired to violate the constitutional rights of these communities.
Hazel previously decided these claims did not have sufficient evidence.
But in a lawsuit released Wednesday, Hazel said that the applicants' request for a new assessment of their claims "raises a significant problem."
The judge did not provide further information. His order said to expect an accompanying statement to be released soon.
The Maryland cases have been appealed to the 4th US Board of Appeal, which had to accept sending the cases back to Hazel before he could issue a new decision to block the citizenship issue.
The fourth circuit has already set a timetable for reviewing discrimination claims this month at the request of the plaintiffs represented by the Mexican American legal defense and education fund and Asian Americans promoting justice. But the Federal Court of Appeal has not yet set a hearing date.
The Census Bureau officials warn that any delay in resolving the legal fate of the citizenship problem risks jeopardizing the final preparations for the census, including printing 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings.