[Last update 2002jun20]

Utah 2000 Census Challenge

Utah, the state which would have received the "436th" House Seat has filed and lost 2 suits challenging the 2000 Census figures.

  • Utah v. Evans I: Utah claimed that out of state Mormon missionaries should have been counted as Utah residents. Because these residents were not counted, North Carolina received the 435th seat. This claim was rejected by a District Court and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
  • Utah v. Evans II: Utah claimed that the use of "imputation" (a census taker who cannot reach anyone at home estimates the number of people living at the residence) in North Carolina was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of North Carolina. [Supreme Court case Utah v. Evans, 01-714]

The TWO cases called 'Utah v. Evans'
Precedent for UTAH v. EVANS II

The TWO cases called 'Utah v. Evans'.


The issue that Utah brought into the Federal courts is that the U.S. Census illegally- if not unconstitutionally- erred, during its 2000 count, by counting all of North Carolina's overseas military personnel as part of the overall population of that State while ignoring more then 10,000 Mormon missionaries- normally resident in Utah- who were overseas on temporary but long-term religious missions. This claim was rejected by a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court: the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case (a decision taken by the Justices in Conference) and that is what took place as of 26 November 2001.


Utah then raised a completely different issue (hence the present case heard by the Supreme Court in oral argument on 27 March): the State challenged the use of what is known as "imputation" in which demographic data already collected- over time- about a given Census Tract (a section or neighborhood with definite boundaries to be specifically counted) is used to infer the size of households which the Census Bureau has been unable to count by any other method. Imputation added more than 1 million persons to the national 2000 Census count: Utah is claiming that imputation unfairly worked to the disadvantage of the State and, further, that imputation is illegal, if not unconstitutional, as it is really no different than the demographic sampling which, in 1999, the Supreme Court ruled to be in violation of Federal statutes governing Congressional Reapportionment (but the Court did not then rule such sampling unconstitutional: that is, violative of the provision- in Article I. Section 2, clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution- that the Census be an "actual enumeration").

The Bush Administration and the State of North Carolina claim that imputation is, in fact, inherently different from the demographic sampling the high court struck down three years ago: further, North Carolina (though not joined here by the Bush Administration) claims that Congress, and not the Judiciary, has exclusive jurisdiction over the means and methods of Congressional Reapportionment.

IF Utah's claim in UTAH v. EVANS II should be upheld, the extra (4th) seat will be filled in a Statewide (that is, at-large) election on 5 November 2002- even though Utah has adopted two different reapportionment maps, one assuming the current 3 seats to be elected in 2002, the other on the off-chance that Utah will, in fact, be filling 4 seats in 2002 (since, if candidates for the potential extra seat were to be nominated by a district-only primary, it would also impact upon currently scheduled primaries for the 3 seats Utah already knows it has): the person elected to the "4th seat" would, after the election, be assigned to the new 4th Congressional District already mapped in the State's alternative districting plan.

For additional information regarding the issues of this case, read http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/docket/action.lasso?-database=docket&-layout=lasso&-response=%2fdocket%2fdetail.srch&-recordID=33045&-search by Jenna Fournel from On the Docket, the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University.

Precedent for UTAH v. EVANS II

The case on which the State of Utah is clearly basing at least the gist of the legal argument on its behalf in its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in UTAH v. EVANS II is the case of DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE v. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (525 U.S. 316) decided by the Court on 25 January 1999:

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE v. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES [aka DOC v.HofR] (along with a companion case on the same issue: CLINTON v. GLAVIN) was decided by a 5-4 majority: J. O'Connor wrote the Opinion of the Court, with Ch.J. Rehnquist and JJ. Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas concurring; J. Ginsburg dissented, joined by JJ. Stevens and Souter with J. Breyer concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Essentially, DOC v. HofR ruled that statistical sampling could not be used in that portion of a Census count utilized to determine the actual apportionment of U.S. House seats (and, by extension, Electoral Votes) among the several States of the Union- this decision based on Article I, Section 2, clause 3 of the Constitution of the United States which states that "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such manner as they shall by Law direct": since the Representatives in Congress are, therefore, constitutionally required to be apportioned by "actual enumeration" (that is, a literal head count), apportioning the 435 House seats under the Method of Equal Proportions provided for by Federal statute using statistical sampling would violate this provision. However, the Court did nothing in its decision in DOC v. HofR to prevent a State subsequently applying statistical sampling to the Census figures for a given State in the course of dividing that State into compact and contiguous Congressional Districts. The end result is that statistical sampling as an attempt to avoid a serious undercount can no longer be used to gain a State an extra Representative or two (at the expense of one or more other States who would thus lose Representatives in Congress it/they would be entitled to under a literal head count) it would not otherwise have via an "actual enumeration".

The State of Utah, in UTAH v. EVANS II, is arguing that "imputation"- in which known demographic data (as opposed to statistical sampling) about the average uncounted household (that is, a household which failed to be part of a literal head count) in a particular census tract (that is, a local section or neighborhood specifically defined for Census counting purposes) is then applied to try to discern how many persons in that census tract remained uncounted in an attempt to avoid a serious undercount- is NOT, in any way, inherently different from the statistical sampling which the Supreme Court has already ruled- in DOC v. HofR- can't be used to apportion Representatives in Congress (and Electoral Votes) among the several States of the Union and, therefore, should be declared to have been illegally- where not unconstitutionally- used in the 2000 Census, with the specific result- as far as Utah be concerned- of Utah being denied an extra 4th seat in the House of Representatives of 2003-2013 (and, by extension, a 6th Electoral Vote in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential Elections) it should have been entitled to had imputation not been used as a tool by the U.S. Census Bureau.


28 December 2000- the U.S. Census Bureau releases the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (and, by extension, the number of Electoral Votes) apportioned to each State of the Union based on the population figures gathered via the 2000 Census. Under the figures thus released, the State of Utah just missed gaining an extra House seat (and concomitant Electoral Vote) by only a few hundred in its so-called "Priority Value", the artificial construct- derived by mathematical formula- which prioritizes the assignment of House seats to each State under the current Congressional Reapportionment plan known as the Method of Equal Proportions: instead, the last (435th) seat assigned by Priority Value goes to the State of North Carolina.

January 2001- the State of Utah files the case in Federal court (U.S. District Court for the District of Utah) that becomes known as UTAH v. EVANS I once the new Bush Administration's appointee Donald L. Evans is confirmed and then sworn into office as Secretary of Commerce, the Department of Commerce being the executive department that includes the Census Bureau.

20 March 2001- the case of UTAH v. EVANS I is heard by a three-judge panel in the Utah Federal District Court.

17 April 2001- the three-judge District Court panel rejects Utah's claim that the Census Bureau erred when it counted North Carolina's vast number of overseas military personnel while ignoring Utah's smaller cadre of overseas Mormon missionaries.

June 2001- Utah files an expedited appeal of UTAH v. EVANS I to the U.S. Supreme Court.

15 August 2001- Utah's appeal in UTAH v. EVANS I is placed on the Supreme Court docket.

15 October 2001- Commerce Secretary Evans and two other respondents (the Bush Administration as a whole via the Solicitor General and the State of North Carolina) ask that either the judgment of the lower court be upheld or Utah's appeal be dismissed.

2 November 2001- The State of Utah responds to the 15 October briefs by asking that the lower court ruling be overturned and it, and not North Carolina, be assigned the 435th and last U.S. House seat under the Method of Equal Proportions.

21 November 2001- The Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court meet in conference to decide whether to even hear oral argument on UTAH v. EVANS I.

26 November 2001- Per curiam, the U.S. Supreme Court announces that it will not hear UTAH v. EVANS I, effectively affirming the ruling of the lower Federal court of 17 April.

23 January 2002- The State of Utah having brought a second issue to bear on the case (that imputation- that is, the use of ancillary data to assign numbers of persons in uncounted households in a given census tract- is as illegal, if not outright unconstitutional, based on the Supreme Court's own 1999 ruling that demographic sampling violated Federal law) and subsequently filing UTAH v. EVANS II, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees, in Conference, to hear the case and schedules oral argument for 27 March 2002.

27 March 2002- Oral argument UTAH v. EVANS II (regarding imputation) before the U.S. Supreme Court.

20 June 2002- The Supreme Court rules 5-4 that imputation is NOT unconstitutional. The 435 House seat will go to North Carolina.

2000 Census Apportionment of Representatives and Electors

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