Utah v. Evans, 536 U.S. 452, 19 (2002)

Page:   Index   Previous  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  Next



Opinion of the Court

money, for it restricts a survey's potential scope. Bureau imputation does not save money, for the Bureau turns to imputation only after ordinary questionnaires and interviews have failed. Rather, imputation reflects a Bureau decision to spend at least a small amount of additional money in order to avoid placing the figure "zero" next to a listed address when it is possible to do better. See ¶ 34, id., at 264 ("The goal in Census 2000 was to conduct a census that was both numerically and distributively accurate").

Finally, Utah provides no satisfactory alternative account of the meaning of the phrase "the statistical method known as 'sampling.' " Its arguments suggest that the phrase should apply to any use of statistics that would help the Bureau extrapolate from items about which the Bureau knows to other items, the characteristics of which it does not know. Brief for Appellants 9. But that definitional view would include within the statutory phrase matters that could not possibly belong there—for example, the use of statistics to determine whether it is better to ask a postal worker or a neighbor about whether an apparently empty house is occupied. And it would come close to forbidding the use of all statistics, not simply one statistical method ("sampling"). Utah's express definitional statement—that "sampling" occurs whenever "information on a portion of a population is used to infer information on the population as a whole"— suffers from a similar defect. Indeed, it is even broader, coming close to a description of the mental process of inference itself. While the Census Bureau and at least one treatise have used somewhat similar language to define "sampling," they have immediately added the qualification that such is the "layman's" view, while professional statisticians, when speaking technically, speak more narrowly and more precisely. Report to Congress 23; Yates 1-2.

Utah makes several additional arguments. It says that in House of Representatives, the Court found that two methods, virtually identical to imputation, constituted "sampling."

Page:   Index   Previous  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007