Federal Judge Cites New Evidence In Reconsideration Of Census Ruling

Federal Judge Cites New Evidence In Reconsideration Of Census Ruling
A federal judge in Maryland ruled Wednesday that new evidence in a census citizenship question case merits additional exploration.

New evidence in a case on the addition of a citizenship question to the U.S. Census is prompting a judge to re-evaluate his previous ruling. 

Maryland federal court Judge George Hazel said Wednesday in an initial order that further exploration is needed in a case about the Trump administration's proposal to put a citizenship question on the next census. 

Let's back up. In April, Judge Hazel joined two others in blocking the plan to add the question. But in that decision, he didn't find enough evidence to support the allegation that White House officials intended to discriminate against immigrants and other minority groups in doing so. 

Now, there's evidence from a plaintiff motion that he says may merit the case's reconsideration. That evidence includes documents from a deceased Republican redistricting expert allegedly suggesting he'd been in talks with the Trump administration about the question. The communications reportedly centered on how adding the question would give Republicans and white voters an electoral advantage.

Even though the judge says it "raises a substantial issue" in the case, it technically can't go forward in his court unless an appeals court chooses to return it to him.  

The possibility of a citizenship question has been blocked multiple times in federal courts and is now working its way through the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule later this month. 

At issue is whether the addition would violate the constitutional rights of immigrants and certain people of color. The federal government says it'll help the Justice Department better enforce the Voting Rights Act. But critics of the additional question say it'll curb census participation by those groups, hurting the report's accuracy. 

It's also been a hot topic on Capitol Hill. The House oversight committee voted to hold some Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress for not complying with subpoenas to turn over information on the issue. The White House has asserted executive privilege over all the documents in question.

Judge Hazel is expected to provide more details in a written opinion. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN