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Posted 07 Dec 2001   For week ended November 30, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 28Nov01

By Kent Larsen

U.S. Supreme Court: Don't Count Missionaries

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Utah's challenge to the 2000 Census Monday, essentially agreeing with lower court decisions that allowed the U.S. Census Bureau to leave LDS missionaries from the U.S. living abroad out of the dicennial count. The court's action leaves Utah with just one challenge to the census left in its attempt to get an additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Census Bureau released its calculation of how many U.S. House seats went to each state in December 2000. Ironically, former Utah resident and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jay Waite, assistant director for the dicennial census in the Census Bureau, made the decision to include overseas military personnel but exclude LDS missionaries. "You can imagine my fear and trepidation when I found out this process had cost Utah a seat," said Waite. "That's where my heart still is. Having been a missionary myself, I have some sympathy for the missionary program." Utah ended up just 853 residents short of getting an additional seat, its fourth, in the U.S. House. The seat instead went to North Carolina.

Utah first filed suit demanding that the Census Bureau either count LDS missionaries living abroad, just as it does U.S. government employees. The state argued that leaving out LDS missionaries was essentially a government intrusion on religion, since missionaries would have to stay home to be counted. But North Carolina, supported by officials of the Census Bureau and Bush administration argued that including LDS missionaries would skew the count, because a disproportionate number of the missionaries came from a single state. They also claimed that granting Utah's claim would open the door to claims from other states, who also have citizens living abroad.

The parties convinced a U.S. District Court judge that the case should follow an expedited appeals process, and it was heard by a three-judge panel, including the District Court judge and two justices of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of Denver. But that panel rejected Utah's arguments, and the state filed its appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Predictably, Utah officials and politicians were disappointed with the court's decision not to hear the case, "It's a total and complete dismissal by the highest court. . . . It is affirming the lower court's ruling without hearing our arguments. It comes as a real surprise," said Utah's Chief Deputy Attorney General Ray Hintze. "I really felt the Supreme Court needed to hear this case. There are substantial constitutional issues. . . . This allows (the Census Bureau) to manipulate the count however they'd like." Senator Orrin Hatch expressed similar sentiments, "I am greatly disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision not to allow my home state of Utah to argue why religious missionaries temporarily living abroad should be counted in the national census," stated Hatch.

But the court's decision doesn't end Utah's attempt to get an additional seat. At the urging of Utah Democrats, the state filed a second lawsuit, challenging the Census Bureau's practice of estimating the number of people living in residences where it wasn't able to count. Utah argued in the second case that this practice was a violation of a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that requires an actual count and prohibits guessing or scientific adjustments.


Justices Deal Utah a Setback in Its Bid to Gain a House Seat
New York Times 27Nov01 T1
By Linda Greenhouse

Court: No missionaries in census
United Press International 26Nov01 T1

Utah Loses Supreme Court Appeal for Census Recount
Fox News 26Nov01 T1

Utah Loses Missionary Census Suit
CBS News (AP) 26Nov01 T1
By Anne Gearan: Associated Press
Religious Evangelists Overseas Don't Count, Supreme Court Says
Utah Said Its Missionaries Entitled It To Another Congressional Seat

Census case dismissed
Deseret News 26Nov01T1
By Elyse Hayes: Deseret News staff writer
Utah has one more chance to win 4th congressional seat

Justices reject Utah's challenge to census figures
Chicago Tribune 26Nov01 T1
By Glen Elsasser

See also:

Utah Throws Another Punch in Census Fight
Mormon News 31Aug01 T1

North Carolina's Argument Supports Utah, Says Utah Attorneys
Mormon News 3Aug01 T1

Utah's Cannon Takes on Census Bureau over Missionary Count
Mormon News 15Jun01 T1

Utah Appeals, and Files New Census Lawsuit
Mormon News 27Apr01 T1

Census Lawsuit Loses on Appeal
Mormon News 20Apr01 T1

Census Judge Reverses Himself, Case to be Heard by Three Judge Panel
Mormon News 23Mar01 T1

Judge's Ruling Will Delay Resolution of Census Lawsuit
Mormon News 9Mar01 T1

North Carolina Claims Census Lawsuit without Merit
Mormon News 23Feb01 T1

Utah Files Lawsuit Over LDS Missionary Census Exclusion
Mormon News 12Jan01 T1

Census Official That Cost Utah House Seat Is LDS
Mormon News 5Jan01 T1


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