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Case Basics
Docket No. 
U.S. House of Representatives
Dept of Commerce
Clinton, President of the United States, et al. v. Glavin et al., No. 98-564
(Argued the cause for the appellees in No. 98-564)
(on behalf of the Appellees in No. 98-404)
(Department of Justice, argued the cause for the appellants)
Facts of the Case 

Under the Census Clause (Art. I, Sect. 2, Cl. 3), Congress is authorized to conduct a census of the American public every 10 years. Among other purposes, the census provides a basis for apportionment of congressional districts. Under the Census Act, Congress delegated this responsibility to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). When the Census Bureau (Bureau) announced plans to use two new forms of discretionary statistical sampling in the 2000 census, various United States residents, counties, and the House of Representatives challenged the constitutionality of the new sampling methods in two separate suits. On direct appeals from three-judge district courts enjoining the use of the new sampling methods, the Supreme Court consolidated the cases and granted certiorari.


Is the use of statistical sampling in the execution of the census inconsistent with provisions of the Census Act or in conflict with the Census Clause of the Constitution?

Decision: 5 votes for U.S. House of Representatives, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 13 U.S.C. 1

Yes with regard to the Census Act. The Court began by noting that the plaintiffs in the joined cases had good standing to bring their challenges because they stood to suffer a decrease in the number of their congressional representatives and a corresponding dilution of voting strength. The Court then added that the disputed Amendment to the Census Act, authorizing the discretionary use of statistical sampling, did not alter the Act's older statutory prohibition against the use of sampling. Consequently, the Court struck down the sampling provision on statutory grounds and avoided the constitutional question.

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DEPT OF COMMERCE v. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
DEPT OF COMMERCE v. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"DEPT OF COMMERCE v. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,