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U.S. Appeals Court Orders Release of Revised California Census Data

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A federal appeals court on Friday ordered the Bush Administration to release revised census data to the California Assembly for California’s upcoming political reapportionment.

The revised figures, based on nationwide samplings after the official census count was released in April, would raise the national population count by 5.3 million and California’s by over 1.1 million, to 30,888,000.

Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher has refused to release breakdowns of the revised figures to the states, saying they were less accurate than the original data.

Both houses of the California Legislature, controlled by Democrats, have sued to get the data, which is likely to show the heaviest increases among pro-Democratic minority voters. The population breakdown is vital to the once-a-decade redistricting for legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization seats, which is due to begin in Sacramento next week.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 late Friday to lift a stay it had previously imposed on a federal judge’s order requiring disclosure of the revised figures to the Assembly.

The appeals court delayed the effect of its order, however, until 2 p.m. Tuesday to allow the federal government to seek a renewed stay from the Supreme Court.

Judges Betty Fletcher and Edward Leavy signed the order, saying legislators were likely to prove their claim and would be harmed more by continued withholding of the information than the government would be harmed by disclosure.

The Assembly’s suit seeks the data under the Freedom of Information Act.

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