Earlier this month, the ACLU and a law lawyers at Arnold & Porter said they had received an act of documents from Hofeller, a deceased Republican redistricting expert, whom they claim played an important role in the decision to add question. Hofeller wrote a study in 2015 and stated that "the people's population in the voting rights" would be "beneficial to Republicans and non-Latin American whites".
The administration has always denied political motivation and instead says that the Ministry of Justice had decided that the issue was necessary in order to better follow federal voting legislation.
Judge George Hazel of the US District Court in Maryland disagreed with the government's argument that Hofeller's files were "not material and it would not yield a new result."
His order allowed the groups to sue the government ̵
The original Maryland trial, as in New York and California, resulted in orders that block the issue from appearing on the census.
But the judge in Maryland ruled that the plaintiffs had not proved that the government acted with discriminatory intent when adding the question. As in the other trials, Hazel, trade secretary Wilbur Rosss's motives, was unclear.
Plaintiffs believe that the new evidence could soar that aspect to their advantage.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon in two other cases that challenge the citizenship issue. The applicants in the Maryland case note that their case raises issues that were not discussed in the cases held in New York or California, and believe that their challenge can go separately from issues to the Supreme Court.
Denise Hulett, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs – the Mexican American Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF – who claimed at a court hearing Tuesday, said the next step is that the appeal court will decide whether to return the case to the trial.
If the case is remanded, Hazel has several options: He could order more discovery, extras, testimonies or document exchanges, Hulett said. He could also decide that he has enough information and regulate based on the newly found evidence alone.
"What happens if the 4th circuit is interrupted, we're waiting for an indication in Judge Hazel's opinion," Hulett told CNN.
Hazel told the court that in the trial he was 49% of the way to find in favor of the plaintiffs their claim for deliberate discrimination.