Utah v. Evans, 536 U.S. 452, 6 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 452 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question before us is whether the Census Bureau's use in the year 2000 census of a methodology called "hot-deck imputation" either (1) violates a statutory provision forbidding use of "the statistical method known as 'sampling' " or (2) is inconsistent with the Constitution's statement that an "actual Enumeration" be made. 13 U. S. C. 195; U. S. Const., Art. I, 2, cl. 3. We conclude that use of "hot-deck imputation" violates neither the statute nor the Constitution.



"Hot-deck imputation" refers to the way in which the Census Bureau, when conducting the year 2000 census, filled in certain gaps in its information and resolved certain conflicts in the data. The Bureau derives most census information through reference to what is, in effect, a nationwide list of addresses. It sends forms by mail to each of those addresses. If no one writes back or if the information supplied is confusing, contradictory, or incomplete, it follows up with several personal visits by Bureau employees (who may also obtain information on addresses not listed). Occasionally, despite the visits, the Bureau will find that it still lacks adequate information or that information provided by those in the field has somehow not been integrated into the master list. The Bureau may have conflicting indications, for example, about whether an address on the list (or a newly generated address) represents a housing unit, an office building, or a vacant lot; about whether a residential building is vacant or occupied; or about the number of persons an occupied unit contains. These conflicts and uncertainties may arise because no one wrote back, because agents in the field produced confused responses, or because those who processed the responses made mistakes. There may be too little time left for further personal visits. And the Bureau may then de-


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