"Utah congressman threatens to withold census funding ." June 14,
The Utah Republican says his state missed gaining a fourth congressional seat by 857 people, and he blames the Census Bureau's failure to count 11,176 Utah residents who were on overseas missions when the 2000 census was taken. The extra congressional seat instead went to North Carolina. Utah's political leaders are suing the Census Bureau over the omission.
Now, Cannon's measure would cut off funding for special Census Bureau projects until the agency comes up with a detailed plan to count all Americans living abroad for the next census. The Census Bureau counts only federal employees and members of the U.S. military stationed overseas.A Census Bureau spokesman would not comment Thursday on Cannon's gambit.
"The legislation I have introduced this morning will address the bureau's perverse set of priorities," a statement from Cannon said Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., who serves on the Census Subcommittee with Cannon, said Clay has not yet seen the new legislation. Clay is a sponsor of another bill that would require the Census Bureau to carry out a special 2004 census that would count Americans overseas. Cannon's main target is the American Community Survey, a project the Census Bureau conducts in non-census years to provide additional data to government agencies and private companies.
Money for this project would be cut, forcing the bureau to focus only on the 10-year counts, Cannon spokesman Jeff Hartley said. Cannon apparently was not happy with the answers he got from census officials during a subcommittee meeting on Wednesday.
"He asked them how much money and time they had spent" on the overseas-citizens issue "and the answer was 'not much,"' Hartley said. Two other members of the Census Subcommittee, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Rep. Dan Miller, R-Fla., did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.
Talking didn't bring quick action. Neither did lawsuits. So now Rep. Chris Cannon is trying to take a hostage to prod the U.S. Census Bureau to count LDS missionaries abroad.
The Utah Republican was to introduce a bill Thursday that would freeze funding for the new annual American Community Survey -- a pet project of the Census Bureau -- until it first finishes detailed plans on how to count Americans abroad(including missionaries) in the 2010 Census.
The $135 million-a-year American Community Survey would ask questions similar to the "long form" of the census about everything from housing to income and transportation. But the data would be gathered each year, instead of every 10 years.
"That information is nice. But the core mission of the census according to the Constitution is for apportionment" of House seats, Cannon told the Deseret News. "They need to focus on that core mission before all that other stuff."
Cannon is still fuming that Utah just missed picking up a fourth U.S. House seat by 857 people in the 2000 Census, largely because the census did not count the state's many missionaries serving abroad for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). The census did, however, count soldiers and other U.S. government workers living abroad -- which helped North Carolina (home of large military bases) squeeze past Utah to pick up that extra House seat.
Cannon questioned acting Census Bureau director William G. Barron Jr. in a House Census Subcommittee hearing Wednesday about how plans are proceeding to count Americans abroad in 2010 -- and didn't like the answers.
Miller said the Census Bureau has been working to "identify issues in structuring a count" and is talking with affected groups trying to figure out the difficult task of how to identify Americans abroad, verify that they are citizens and deliver questionnaires to them.
A report to Congress on that early work is due Sept. 30, and Miller said he doubts that it can be accelerated.
When Cannon asked how far away a final plan for counting Americans (and missionaries) abroad is for the 2010 Census, Miller said, "Probably a pretty good length of time away. The issues are daunting." After the hearing, Cannon told the Deseret News he is not satisfied that enough is being done and would try to prod quicker action by introducing a bill to freeze any spending on the American Community Survey.
A draft of the bill said spending would be frozen until the Census Bureau submits "a detailed, written plan for the counting of overseas Americans in future decennial censuses," and has final rules in place to accomplish that.
Also, the bill would require a written report justifying why such overseas Americans were not counted in the 1990 and 2000 censuses. Cannon faces a battle to convince Congress to pass his bill. But the chance it could pass might prod the action he seeks.
At the hearing Wednesday, Barron said the American Community Survey that Cannon is attempting to hold hostage is a key part of plans to improve the 2010 Census and the data the bureau can provide annually before then.
He said it would do away with the need for the "long form" -- because it would duplicate the new survey -- and would allow the Census Bureau to focus exclusively on the basic count during the decennial census. He said it would provide up-to-date demographic and economic data without waiting 10 years for a Census.
Utah has filed two lawsuits challenging the 2000 Census for not counting the LDS missionaries living abroad. It lost but plans to appeal one case that sought to force inclusion of the LDS missionaries or exclusion of military personnel -- either of which would give Utah an extra House seat. A second suit -- challenging the bureau's practice of guessing the number of people in some homes, which likely helped boost North Carolina's population -- has a hearing set for Aug. 29.
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Targeting Matheson, Cont.
Utah Republicans continued their assault against lone Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, offering a new House map last week that would reshape his Salt Lake City-based district into one that runs from Idaho to Arizona.
The map, which cleaves the state into three vertical chunks mostly longer than they are wide, would divide Salt Lake County three ways and combine each piece with mostly rural localities. Salt Lake County is one of the few Democratic bastions in Utah.
About two-thirds of the county's population of nearly 900,000 would join with the residents of nine rural counties to form a new 2nd district for Matheson.
"I think this wholesale disruption is motivated by partisanship," the Congressman told reporters during a news conference at the state Capitol, after voicing similar complaints to lawmakers in the state's GOP-controlled Legislature.
For his part, Matheson wants back the Salt Lake City neighborhoods of Rose Park and Glendale that were stripped from his district 10 years ago, diluting its Democratic strength.
The map, which dramatically reconfigures all three House districts in Utah, was drafted by Rep. Jim Hansen (R) and has been endorsed by Rep. Christopher Cannon (R).
The state's Redistricting Task Force has until September to equalize the population of all three districts.
Matheson, City Boy.
Still smarting from the fact that Democrats were able to put a chink in their delegation's partisan GOP armor, Utah Republicans are floating a remap plan that would stretch freshman Rep. Jim Matheson's (D) Salt Lake City-based district into the state's rural reaches.
Matheson easily carried the swing 2nd district last November after Republicans dumped then Rep. Merrill Cook in the GOP primary. Since then, however, he has ranked atop the list of vulnerable House Members, mostly because he faces a round of redistricting completely controlled by state Republicans.
Continuing a trend that began 10 years ago, when remapping agents moved part of the 2nd into the eastern 3rd district, Republicans now want to further increase the rural nature of the state's most urban district.
"We won't have anybody who has just an urban district because that's caused a lot of conflict in the past," Rep. Christopher Cannon (R) told the Salt Lake Tribune. Cannon and Rep. James Hansen (R) met recently with state GOP leaders to discuss their urban-rural proposal.
"So we'll see some fairly significant readjustments in rural [areas] and Salt Lake. And with any luck I will get a significantly larger portion of Salt Lake County myself," Cannon added.
Matheson has said he would sue if state Republicans unfairly attempt to draw him out of office.
"It depends on how radical they want to be," he said. "There's got to be some test of reasonableness." The Democrat said the new map should incur a "minimal disruption of existing lines," adding that it's reasonable to keep the district within a single county.
Utah's second lawsuit against the Census Bureau, which deals with the issue of statistical sampling, probably won't be heard in court until mid-August, according to the Utah Attorney General's Office. State leaders filed the second lawsuit last month just after a three-judge panel rejected the state's arguments in its first case, which claimed the 2000 count should have included overseas LDS missionaries or left out overseas federal employees. Along with filing the new complaint, the state plans on appealing that court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Winning either lawsuit would give Utah an additional congressional representative.
The state lost the extra seat to North Carolina by 857 residents. Judges J. Thomas Greene and Dale A. Kimball and 10th Circuit Judge Michael Murphy, all from Utah, will hear the second lawsuit. Utah attorneys had been hoping for a court date near July 24, said Ray Hintze of the attorney general's office, and the tentative mid-August date sets the state back three weeks. The delay comes in part because the Census Bureau will need time to respond to all of Utah's questions and requests for documents, Hintze said.
Utah attorneys discussed the case schedule with North Carolina attorneys and the U.S. Department of Justice late Thursday and came to an agreement, avoiding a scheduling hearing in Salt Lake City on Friday. "The issue is just one of timing," Hintze said. "We all compromised some." Utah's most recent lawsuit challenges the legality of imputation used in the 2000 domestic count. Imputation is a form of statistical sampling, or guessing, that census enumerators used when they could not reach anyone in a home. Utah attorneys say imputation accounted for about .2 percent of the population and is not allowed in the apportionment count.
They say the imputed numbers, which boosted North Carolina's count significantly more than Utah's, should be thrown out. Along with appealing the court's decision on the first lawsuit, state attorneys expect whoever loses the second round will appeal the decision as well. The two cases probably won't go to the Supreme Court until the end of September or later, depending on how long it takes the three-judge panel in Salt Lake City to issue a judgment after the second case is heard, Hintze said.
Utah will draw a fourth congressional district even though it's far from certain the state will win a legal battle against the Census Bureau for the extra seat. Legislators in charge of drawing new political districts voted Thursday to make a contingency plan for the additional U.S. House of Representatives seat. The plan was approved at the first meeting of a 20-legislator redistricting committee with no discussion. It's a practical matter, said Gerry Adair, R-Roy, co-chairman of the panel. If Utah wins and hasn't drawn the extra district, he said, it would have to redouble its efforts. Adair said he was very optimistic Utah will prevail against the Census Bureau despite the fact a three-judge panel on April 17 rejected each of the state's claims.
Utah says it lost the congressional sweepstakes because 11,176 residents on overseas Mormon church missions weren't included in the 2000 census. A hastily convened panel of federal judges ruled the Census Bureau didn't have to count the missionaries. Gov. Mike Leavitt and other state leaders will appeal the setback to the U.S. Supreme Court. Utah, meanwhile, filed a second court complaint Wednesday, asserting the Census Bureau's practice of guessing how many people live in some households also cost Utah the extra seat.
Utah finished just barely behind North Carolina in the race for an additional seat. Each state gets at least one seat and the rest are divvied up by population. ``All of us feel that Utah is deserving of a fourth seat,'' said Sen. Pete Suazo, D-Salt Lake City. But not everyone is optimistic.
``Sounds to me like we don't have much of a chance on the missionary thing,'' said Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Salt Lake City. Waddoups, co-chairman of the redistricting panel, said the other Utah complaint about Census Bureau guesswork may be too little, too late. ``North Carolina is in the same boat. They've got to be planning their districts,'' he said. Utah's GOP-dominated redistricting panel got organized Thursday after being warned by a staff attorney against political gerrymandering. Before hitting the maps and parsing census data, lawmakers debated principles of fairness.
They didn't get very far: a motion to
keep state and federal districts compact and contiguous failed.
Legislators said the motion was ambiguous and premature and opened them to
liability in any lawsuit challenging their handiwork.
Utah will escalate its legal battle against the U.S. Census Bureau for an additional congressional seat, the governor of the state announced. Gov. Mike Leavitt, his attorney general and legislative leaders decided to pursue one appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court while filing a new claim in federal district court. ``The stakes are too high and the cause is too good'' to drop the matter, Leavitt said on Tuesday.
It will cost Utah another $300,000 to pursue both cases. The state's original lawsuit, which claimed the Census Bureau shortchanged Utah by failing to count 11,176 residents who were on overseas missions for the Mormon church, was rejected April 17 by a panel of three federal judges. That solidified a 13th U.S. House seat for North Carolina, which beat out Utah by 856 residents under a congressional allocation formula.
The U.S. Census Bureau counts only federal workers and military personnel stationed abroad, saying it's all but impossible to count others in a fair way for all states. The federal judges said Mormon missionaries make up only a tiny fraction of the estimated 5 million Americans living overseas and that including them in the census would give Utah an unfair advantage over other states.
The new suit will assert that the Census Bureau uses guesswork to round out population figures for each state. When the bureau can't confirm how many people live in a household, it assigns the same number of people counted in the nearest residence. That sampling method gave North Carolina 32,457 additional residents and Utah, 5,393.
Leavitt said that if the Census Bureau is forced to subtract such numbers from every state, Utah will gain a fourth U.S. House seat. ``If you eliminate the guessing, we get the seat. If you treat everyone the same, we get the seat,'' Leavitt said. ``You don't use guessing in the census.'' The state plans to file its new claim before another three-judge panel and ask for an expedited hearing. Both cases could end up before the Supreme Court at the same time.
Leavitt said the original claim is still worth pursuing because he maintains the three judges misinterpreted a 1992 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the counting of overseas federal personnel. Utah's lawyers say that decision opens the door to the counting of other Americans abroad. ``The new complaint really is a key part of our overall case,'' Leavitt said. ``All we need to win on is one of them.''
Taking a new tack in a lawsuit to get Utah an additional congressional seat, lawyers for the state said they want census ``guesses'' eliminated from resident population counts. In a motion filed Friday, state attorneys claimed the federal census violated the law when it used neighbors' households to determine how many people lived in homes that were not contacted by census counters.
Nationwide, these numbers amounted to one-half of 1 percent, but that would be enough to swing the numbers in Utah's favor. At issue are 32,457 estimated residents in North Carolina and 5,395 in Utah. Attorney Tom Lee, citing a 1999 Supreme Court decision, said these numbers should be thrown out of the count.
Utah's original lawsuit claims it lost an extra congressional seat because the Census Bureau did not count 11,176 Utah residents who were overseas on proselytizing missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Utah fell just 857 residents shy of gaining a fourth congressional seat. Instead, the seat became North Carolina's 13th. The amended complaint turns the focus toward residents who were in the state, rather than those overseas.
A judge will decide whether to allow the amendment. Meanwhile, Department of Justice attorneys have two weeks to respond to the new complaint, said Justice spokesman Charles Miller. But state attorneys are confident that their new arguments will be allowed into the case because this information was not available sooner. ``This is another arrow in our quiver,'' Lee said.
Utah would claim the new congressional seat from North Carolina if it prevailed in court. North Carolina, in its defense, cites a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Census Bureau's limiting the overseas count to federal employees. Deputy attorney general Ray Hintz said they wanted to file their amended complaint before a three-judge panel decides the case. ``Obviously we had to file this before they ruled on the first complaint so it wouldn't look like sour grapes,'' Hintz said. ``This is not added because we think that the first cause is any less likely to prevail. The original claims we made are still valid,'' he said.
Utah is now challenging the Census Bureau's domestic census count in addition to its overseas count in the lawsuit against the federal government attempting to gain a fourth representative. On Friday morning, Utah filed an amendment to its federal lawsuit against the bureau, adding to it a claim that the bureau used illegal statistical estimates instead of actual numbers in portions of the 2000 Census count.
"If the Census Bureau had limited its apportionment count to those persons actually enumerated, and had not unlawfully supplemented that count with statistical estimates, Utah would have been entitled to a fourth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives," reads the motion for amended complaint.
The original complaint, filed Jan. 10 by Gov. Mike Leavitt, members of the Utah Legislature and other state leaders, focuses on the argument that the Census Bureau acted contrary to the Constitution when it arbitrarily counted only federal employees living abroad but not other groups, including LDS missionaries. "Those claims are still on the table," said Utah's lead counsel, Tom Lee.
"We've found, so to speak, another arrow in the quiver . . . both arrows are strong." According to a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the reapportionment census count, which is used to determine how many U.S. House seats are assigned to each state, must be a count of actual persons and can't involve any guessing or scientific adjustment.
The court ruling indicated the count must be completed either by a mailed questionnaire, personal visit or telephone call. But the bureau did use a statistical sampling technique called "imputation" in the 2000 count, something that was "absolutely" against the law, Lee said. During the 2000 Census count, when a household did not return its census form and no one could be located in that household, census enumerators sometimes used "imputation" to make a guess of how many people lived there, based on other households in the neighborhood. "We can all, from our own experience, determine how accurate that would be in our own neighborhoods," said Ray Hintze, chief deputy in the Utah attorney general's office.
Statisticians discovered this week that the imputation practice adversely affected Utah's count and bolstered North Carolina's, even though imputation was used only in about .5 percent of the population. Utah and North Carolina were so close that it tipped the balance, giving North Carolina the seat, Hintze said. The team of attorneys representing Utah in the lawsuit had suspected the bureau used some sampling in its count, but that claim wasn't verified until this week.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, who was recently placed on the House Subcommittee on the Census, helped provide that information for Utah. In December, when the 2000 Census apportionment figures were released, North Carolina beat out Utah by 857 people to gain another congressional representative. That state had more than 18,000 military personnel who were counted overseas, while Utah had fewer than 4,000.
Utah's 11,176 residents who were serving LDS missions in foreign countries on April 1, 2000, the official date of the count, were left out, and the state filed a lawsuit against the federal government in an attempt to take back representation that Utah attorneys say rightfully belongs to the state. Attorneys for Utah, North Carolina and the Census Bureau made arguments in the case before a three-judge panel at Moss Courthouse in Salt Lake City on March 28.
Utah is asking the court to either force the bureau to count all U.S. civilians living overseas that are "similarly situated" to military personnel, including LDS missionaries, or to exclude military personnel from the count. Utah attorneys don't yet know whether the court will accept their amendment or whether the new argument will require another hearing.
Federal judges hear Utah's plea for fourth congressional seat
April 27, 2001
A federal judge said Wednesday it would be ``wildly'' unfair to count Utah's Mormon missionaries overseas in the 2000 Census because other Americans abroad can't be so easily counted. ``Including only missionaries would not advance the cause of equal representation,'' said Stephen Anderson, a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Anderson was one of three federal judges hearing Utah's complaint that it lost an extra congressional seat because the Census Bureau did not count 11,176 Utah residents who were overseas on proselytizing missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A complex allocation formula left Utah just 857 residents shy of gaining a fourth congressional seat that instead became North Carolina's 13th seat. Utah would take that seat from North Carolina if it prevails in court. Anderson persuaded Utah's lead attorney, Thomas Lee, to abandon his argument for including missionaries in the census. Lee, a law professor at church-owned Brigham Young University, then switched to arguing that the Census Bureau should exclude all federal employees overseas, including members of the armed forces.
Either result, Utah officials say, would give the state a fourth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Census Bureau counts only federal workers and military personnel overseas, leaving out missionaries and private American employees on foreign assignments. Lawyers for North Carolina and the Census Bureau said it was easy enough to count Americans serving their government abroad and that it doesn't disadvantage any particular states. That count ``cuts across the whole panorama of American citizens,'' said Tiare Smiley of North Carolina.
Utah also appeared to make little headway claiming that the failure to count Mormon missionaries was religious discrimination. Lee argued young Mormons faced the unpleasant choice of serving a mission that's expected of them or staying in Utah to be counted. But Anderson said missionaries couldn't possibly have known a year ago that their absence would cost Utah a congressional seat. U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson said it was not even certain that many of Utah's missionaries were left off census forms filled out by their parents. Some may have ignored census instructions to exclude college students and others away from home.
With its large missionary population, Utah says it could gain another Washington representative even if the Census Bureau decided to count missionaries from other states. Lee says the Mormon church keeps meticulous records on its missionaries and can easily supply proof to the Census Bureau. Yet that could justify the counting of other Americans abroad, and federal lawyers said the Census Bureau can't guarantee an accurate and complete overseas count that would be fair to all states. ``We don't have the ability to send enumerators to every country in the world,'' said Rupa Bhattacharyya, a Justice Department attorney defending the Census Bureau. Anderson agreed, saying any effort to count all Americans overseas ``would be wildly haphazard.''
Wednesday's 2 hour court hearing ended with lawyers telling the judges they were under no pressure to make a quick decision, but a ruling is expected within weeks. It can be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. North Carolina officials have said Utah is trying to change the 2000 Census rules after the fact and are asking the court to throw out Utah's suit. Much of Wednesday's hearing was spent discussing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Census Bureau's decision to limit the overseas count to people on the federal payroll for the 1990 census. In that ruling, the high court said an accurate count of all Americans living abroad wasn't possible. It said a limited count protected against bias that could distort congressional apportionment.