Feb 12, 1998
Press Release

WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Census Caucus is blasting a lawsuit filed today seeking to tie the 2000 Census up in court long enough to prevent the use of statistical methods to correct the undercount of the nation's poor, and minorities.

The design for the 2000 Census still hangs in the balance, after passage of a budget compromise that postponed the decision on sampling for a year. The use of modern statistical methods depends on the results of an April census dress rehearsal in Sacramento, Calif., but the suit filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation seeks to shut down the dress rehearsal.

At today's press conference announcing the lawsuit, SLF President Matthew Glavin announced his disregard for an accurate count in the year 2000. "This is not about accuracy," said Glavin, "it's about the Constitution".

Shays and Maloney both believe, however, that an accurate count is the basis of our democracy. An accurate count is the only way to preserve the intentions of the authors of the constitution. And the only way to obtain an accurate count is through the use of modern statistical methods.

"This case will never be decided on the merits, and the people filing never intended for it to be decided. It's a situation where they're hoping that indecision becomes the decision. There are 20 years of opinions from administrations of both parties that the Census Bureau has the authority to use sampling, but the Supreme Court cannot rule on the case until after the census is held," said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., co-chair of the Congressional Census Caucus. "This lawsuit is a clear attempt to use the courts to stymie the process."

"This is not an attempt to win in court, it's an attempt to win by going to court. Unfortunately, some people are so afraid the trial run will prove sampling works, that they are willing to shut it down," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., co-chair of the Congressional Census Caucus. "I would like nothing more than to have the Supreme Court rule on this issue as soon as possible, because the Constitution gives Congress the authority to conduct a census in such manner as they shall by Law direct.' Unfortunately, the court can't rule, and opponents are using the courts to try and kill sampling with an injunction."


BACKGROUND: Historical increases in the number of women in the work force, mistrust of government, and even illegal immigration have all made it more difficult to conduct a census by traditional means, and the undercount of poor urban and rural residents, predominantly minorities, grew in 1990. The Census Bureau resolved to use modern statistical methods, include sampling, after the 1990 Census, which missed 10 million people, and counted 6 million people twice. In 1990, one in ten Black males was not counted. One in ten young Asian males was missed. And one in 15 Hispanic men was also missed. Independent experts including the General Accounting Office, National Academy of Sciences, and Commerce Department Inspector General say sampling will provide the most accurate count. Contacts: For Maloney, Terese Schlachter, 202/225-7944; For Shays, Seth Amgott, 202/225-5541, or after hours by pager, 800/759-8888, pin 114-1080.