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Thursday March 8, 2001

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Judge says Utah census suit won't get expedited appeal

By The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah won't get a quick decision on its challenge of the 2000 census, setting back its effort to claim an extra congressional seat.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson ruled Tuesday that Utah was not entitled to an expedited review by a three-judge appellate court panel because the state is raising a technical, not constitutional, objection to the census.

Instead of going directly to the appellate panel, the state's lawsuit will be heard March 20 by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson. Then, the judge ruled, any appeal will go to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, not straight to the U.S. Supreme Court for a quick decision.

Utah's lawsuit says the Census Bureau's failure to count 11,000 Mormon missionaries serving overseas, while counting military and other federal workers based in North Carolina, cost Utah a fourth House seat. North Carolina would lose a newly apportioned congressional seat if Utah prevails.

The Census Bureau has said that it was following legal precedent in not counting Mormon missionaries.

Utah objects that missionaries and other private citizens living abroad were counted from 1910 to 1940.



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