Court To Expand Study of Census
Oct. 09, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court agreed Friday to expand its study of whether the Clinton administration can use statistical sampling for the 2000 census.
The court had agreed Sept. 10 to decide a dispute spurred when the Republican-led House sued the Census Bureau over its planned use of the sampling method, designed to make up for undercounting of minorities. In a brief order Friday, the justices said they will simultaneously review a case stemming from a challenge to the method by taxpayers in six states.
Arguments in both cases will be conducted Nov. 30.
The administration is seeking to overturn a pair of lower court decisions that invalidated the Census Bureau's planned use of statistical sampling. Billions of dollars in federal money are allocated on the basis of how many people live in each state and city, and shifts in population can lead to the redrawing of House, state legislative and local-government districts.
In the case acted on Friday, taxpayers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin sued and contended that the use of statistical sampling likely would cause their states to lose seats in the House.
They also alleged that their voting strength would be diluted at the intrastate level by lowering the population count for their counties while increasing those of others.
Justice Department lawyers urged the highest court to combine the taxpayer case with that initiated by the House because the House's disputed legal standing to challenge the sampling method is a potential stumbling block to deciding the case on its merits.
Two lower courts ruled that the use of the sampling method would violate a federal law but avoided ruling on the method's constitutionality.
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. Sampling would be used in part to estimate the remaining 10 percent.
A boost in the count of minorities is viewed as helping Democrats.
The case acted on Friday is Clinton vs. Glavin, 98-564.