A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to force Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans to release adjusted census numbers to the public.
U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess said he was deferring to Evans, who in February barred Census Bureau staffers from releasing recalculated population estimates based on sampling. Feess said it was not clear that federal law gave him authority to make Evans change his order.
The government was sued by a Los Angeles law firm, O'Melveney & Meyers, last month on behalf of more than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Inglewood and San Francisco, and several Los Angeles lawmakers.
The group is considering an appeal.
The sampling issue has been politically volatile. Statistical sampling is widely presumed to yield a higher count of ethnic and racial minorities--groups that mostly vote Democratic and historically have been undercounted by traditional census methods.
Census figures are used to determine the flow of federal funds to states, cities and counties, and they are used to redraw district boundaries for thousands of elected officials.
Historically, Democrats have favored an adjusted count, while Republicans have supported the original census. Each side has accused the other of wanting to assure itself of more seats in the House of Representatives.
The 2000 census missed more than 500,000 Californians, Democratic census monitors have said.