Box 2.2
Utah v. Evans: Legal Challenges to 2000 Census

Under the reapportionment counts issued by the Census Bureau in December 2000, Utah fell short of the 435th (and final) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by fewer than 1,000 people; the seat was awarded to North Carolina. As a consequence, Utah filed two legal challenges, one of which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and both of which raise issues likely to be revisited as the 2010 census approaches.

Many of the documents filed by the state of Utah in the two cases remain available on the Internet at [12/1/03].

Utah v. Evans I: Overseas Enumeration

In its first legal filing, Utah challenged the reapportionment counts on the basis that Americans living overseas were treated unequally in the census count. Specifically, the case cited the failure to count missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (who temporarily live abroad), even though military personnel and other federal employees stationed overseas are counted. To apply a uniform standard, the case argued that federal employees stationed overseas should be dropped from the apportionment counts.

In April 2001, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah ruled against the state. In a November 26, 2001, order, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ruling without comment and declined to take the case on appeal (Nov. 26, 2001, order list, No. 01-283).

Utah v. Evans II: Whole-Person Imputation

As litigation in the overseas enumeration case proceeded, Utah’s legal team developed another challenge to the apportionment count, this time examining imputation of whole persons to the census when even household size is not known (imputation types 3–5, as in Box 4.2 in Chapter 4). Utah argued that whole-person imputation using hot-deck methods (see Appendix G) constituted sampling, which was prohibited for use in apportionment totals by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999. If those imputations were dropped from apportionment tallies, Utah would win the 435th seat rather than North Carolina, but no other state’s apportionment total would be affected.

Utah initially sought to add its case against imputation to the existing litigation on overseas enumeration, but the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah denied amendment to the case. However, it did so not on the merits of the case but rather on the grounds that it would fundamentally affect the character of the lawsuit. Consequently, the imputation challenge was filed in its own right.

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