536 U.S. 452 (2002), 01-714, Utah v. Evans
|Citation:||536 U.S. 452, 122 S.Ct. 2191, 153 L.Ed.2d 453, 70 U.S.L.W. 4628|
|Party Name:||Utah v. Evans|
|Case Date:||June 20, 2002|
|Court:||United States Supreme Court|
Argued March 27, 2002
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
The Census Bureau derives most census information from forms it mails to a nationwide list of addresses. If no one replies to a particular form or the information supplied is confusing, contradictory, or incomplete, the Bureau follows up with visits by its field personnel. Occasionally, despite the visits, the Bureau may still have conflicting indications about, e.g., whether a listed address is a housing unit, office building, or vacant lot, whether a residence is vacant or occupied, or the number of persons in a unit. The Bureau may then use a methodology called imputation, by which it infers that the address or unit about which it is uncertain has the same population characteristics as those of its geographically closest neighbor of the same type (i.e., apartment or single-family dwelling) that did not return a form. In the year 2000 census, the Bureau used hot-deck imputation to increase the total population count by about 0.4%. But because this small percentage was spread unevenly across the country, it made a difference in the apportionment of congressional Representatives. In particular, imputation increased North Carolinas population by 0.4% while increasing Utahs by only 0.2%, so that North Carolina will receive one more Representative and Utah one less than if the Bureau had simply filled relevant informational gaps by counting the related number of individuals as zero. Utah brought this suit against respondents, the officials charged with conducting the census, claiming that the Bureaus use of hot-deck imputation violates 13 U.S.C. § 195, which prohibits use of the statistical method known as sampling, and is inconsistent with the Constitutions statement that an actual Enumeration be made, U.S. Const., Art. I, § 2, cl. 3. Utah sought an injunction compelling appellees to change the official census results. North Carolina intervened. The District Court found for the Bureau.
1. The Court rejects North Carolinas argument that Utah lacks standing because this action is not a Case or Controversy, Art. III, § 2, in that the federal courts do not have the power to redress the injury that respondents allegedly caused Utah, e.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561. Because there is no significant difference
between Utah and the plaintiff in Franklin v. Massachusetts, 505 U.S. 788, in which the Court rejected a similar standing argument, North Carolina must convince the Court that it should reconsider Franklin. It has not done so. It argues that ordering respondents to recalculate the census numbers and recertify the official result cannot help Utah because North Carolina is entitled to the number of Representatives already certified to it under the statutes that require a decennial census, 13 U.S.C. § 141(a); mandate that the results be reported to the President, § 141(b); obligate the President to send Congress a statement showing the number of Representatives to which each State is entitled by the census data, 2 U.S.C. § 2a(a); and specify that the House must then send each State a certificate of the number of Representatives to which it is entitled. The statutes also say that once all that is done, each State shall be entitled to the number of Representatives the certificate specifies. § 2a(b). Unlike North Carolina, the Court does not read these statutes as absolutely barring a certificates revision in all cases. The statutes do not expressly address what is to occur in the case of a serious mistakesay, a clerical, mathematical, or calculation error in census data or in its transposition. Guided by Franklin, which found standing despite § 2as presence, the Court reads the statute as permitting certificate revision in such cases of error, including cases of court-determined legal error leading to a court-required revision of the underlying census report. So read, the statute poses no legal bar to redress. Nor does Pub. L. 105119, Title II, § 209(b), 111 Stat. 2481, which entitles [a]ny person aggrieved by the use of any [un- lawful] statistical method to bring a civil action for declaratory or injunctive relief against the use of such method. Despite North Carolinas argument that this statue implicitly forbids a suit after the census conclusion, the statute does not say that and does not explain why Congress would wish to deprive of its day in court a State that did not learn of a counting methods representational consequences until after the census completionand hence had little, if any, incentive to bring a precensus action. The Court reads limitations on its jurisdiction narrowly, see, e.g., Webster v. Doe, 486 U.S. 592, 603, and will not read into a statute an unexpressed congressional intent to bar jurisdiction the Court has previously exercised, e.g., Franklin, supra. Because neither statute poses an absolute legal barrier to relief, it is likely that Utahs victory here would bring about the ultimate relief it seeks. See id., at 803. Thus, Utah has standing. Pp. 459464.
2. The Bureaus use of hot-deck imputation does not violate 13 U.S.C. § 195, which authorize[s] the use of the statistical method known as sampling, [e]xcept for the determination of population for purposes of apportionment of Representatives. Bureau imputation
in the year 2000 census differs from sampling in several critical respects: (1) As to the nature of the enterprise, sampling seeks to extrapolate the features of a large population from a small one, but the Bureaus imputation process sought simply to fill in missing data as part of an effort to count individuals one by one. (2) As to methodology, sampling seeks to find a subset that will resemble a whole through the use of artificial, random selection processes, whereas the Bureaus methodology was not that typically used by statisticians, but that used to assure that an individual unit (not a subset), chosen nonrandomly, will resemble other individuals (not a whole) selected by the fortuitous unavailability of data. (3) As to the immediate objective, sampling seeks to extrapolate the samples relevant population characteristics to the whole population, while the Bureau seeks simply to determine the characteristics of missing individual data. These differences, whether of degree or of kind, are important enough to place imputation outside the scope of § 195s phrase the statistical method known as sampling. That phraseusing the words known as and the quotation marks around samplingsuggests a term of art with a technical meaning. And the technical literature, which the Court has examined, see Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 201, contains definitions that focus upon the sorts of differences discussed above. Also, insofar as the parties rely on statisticians expert opinion, that opinion uniformly favors the Government. Further, § 195s legislative history suggests that the sampling to which the statute refers is the practice that the Secretary called sampling in 1958 when Congress wrote that law, and that the statutory word does not apply to imputation, which Congress did not consider. Finally, Utah provides no satisfactory alternative account of the meaning of the phrase the statistical method known as sampling. Its several argumentsthat sampling occurs when- ever information on a portion of the population is used to infer information about the whole population; that the Court found that two methods, allegedly virtually identical to imputation, constituted sampling in Department of Commerce v. United States House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316, 324326; that the Bureau, if authorized to engage in imputation, might engage in wide-scale substitution of imputation for person-by-person counting; and that two of the Bureaus imputation methods are inaccurateare not convincing. Utah has failed to overcome the fact that the Bureau has long and consistently interpreted § 195 as permitting imputation, while Congress, aware of this interpretation, has enacted related legislation without changing the statute. Pp. 464473.
3. The Bureaus use of hot-deck imputation does not violate the Census Clause, which requires the actual Enumeration of each States population
within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress . . . , in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. Utah argues that the words actual Enumeration require the Census Bureau to seek out each individual and prohibit it from relying on imputation, but the Constitutions text does not make the distinction that Utah seeks to draw. Rather, it uses a general word, enumeration, that refers to a counting process without describing the counts methodological details. The textual word actual refers in context to the enumeration that would be used for apportioning the Third Congress, succinctly clarifying the fact that the constitutionally described basis for apportionment would not apply to the First and Second Congresses. The final part of the sentence says that the actual Enumeration shall take place in such Manner as Congress itself shall by Law direct, thereby suggesting the breadth of congressional methodological authority, rather than its limitation. See, e.g., Wisconsin v. City of New York, 517 U.S. 1, 19. This understanding of the text is supported by the history of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which demonstrates thatactual Enumeration does not limit census methodology as Utah proposes, but was intended to distinguish the census from the apportionment...
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