YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Nation

Utah Suit Over House Seat Dismissed

November 02, 2001|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A panel of federal judges Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Utah seeking to wrest a congressional seat from North Carolina.

The suit disputed figures in the 2000 census that led to North Carolina getting a 13th seat in Congress. Had the suit been successful, Utah would have been granted a fourth U.S. House seat.

The judges voted, 2 to 1, to dismiss the suit. Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff said he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

North Carolina officials said they believe Utah should drop the case.

"We hope leaders there will take 'no' for an answer," North Carolina Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper said in a statement.

Shurtleff noted that U.S. District Judge Thomas Greene's dissent mirrored Utah's claim, which was based on a counting method used by the Census Bureau.

When census workers are unable to count people in a household despite repeated visits, the bureau assumes through statistical "imputation" that the same number of people live there as in the neighboring dwelling.

In the 2000 census, imputation accounted for less than half a percent of the total U.S. population. But that may have been enough to give North Carolina the extra seat.

In the formula used to determine House seats, Utah finished just 857 residents behind North Carolina, another fast-growing state.

"The Constitution says you have to have an actual enumeration," Shurtleff said. "They can't substantiate that there are actually people living there."

The federal judges, however, disagreed. "Use of imputation during the 2000 census was reasonably consistent with the accomplishments of actual enumeration," the judges wrote.

In a related suit, Utah argued unsuccessfully that Mormon missionaries who were out of the country in April 2000 should have been included in the count.

Utah is also appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

Los Angeles Times Articles