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Court Rejects Clinton Census Plan

September 26, 1998

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Clinton administration’s plan to use a statistical sampling method for counting people in the 2000 census has been rejected by a second federal court.

Three judges from the U.S. District Court in eastern Virginia sided Friday with the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law firm that claimed the sampling method is illegal.

In an earlier case, three judges in Washington also ruled against the administration in a lawsuit filed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. That case will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 30.

Census data, gathered every decade as required by the Constitution, is used to redraw House district lines and to distribute hundreds of billions in federal spending.

The Census Bureau estimates that 4 million people were overlooked in the 1990 census. Under its plan for 2000, a traditional head count by mailings and door-to-door surveys would be used for 90 percent of the population. The sampling would be used to estimate the remaining 10 percent, often minorities and inner city residents who traditionally support Democrats.

Most Republicans argue that sampling is unreliable and would let the Clinton administration manipulate the figures to Democrats’ advantage.

Critics of the plan said the administration should yield to the courts and begin planning for the same type of actual head count the Census Bureau has conducted since 1790.

``For the Census Bureau to continue plans to use sampling in the 2000 Census is irresponsible, a waste of taxpayer money and poses a significant risk that sufficient resources will not be devoted to a full enumeration,″ said Rep. Dan Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the House census subcommittee.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. and co-chairman of the pro-sampling Congressional Census Caucus, said Friday’s decision ``flies in the face of `one person, one vote,′ which is clearly delineated in the Constitution.″

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