The United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) will shine a spotlight on one of the most controversial topics of the year this Friday, February 12, when it hosts a briefing on Census 2000 and the civil rights implications of the Supreme Court's recent decision regarding the undercount of minorities.

The briefing will include presentations by many of the key figures in the political, advocacy, and legal communities. "We look forward to a thorough and wide-ranging exploration of this multi-faceted topic," said Dr. Mary Frances Berry, Chairperson of the USCCR.

At issue is the question of how best to count people in the 2000 Census. The problem is that minorities are disproportionately missed by the usual Census method of "counting heads." Some policymakers propose using statistical sampling techniques to increase the count's accuracy. Others, however, fear that such techniques would result in the creation of "virtual Americans," and undercut the Constitution's intent that a decennial Census enumerate the population.

What might have been a narrow, technical matter of interest to a handful of statisticians and lawyers is rapidly emerging as a major political debate. Last week's Supreme Court's decision to require enumeration for Congressional apportionment was supposed to resolve the controversy, but tossed many of the key decisions back into the political arena.

The briefing provides an opportunity for the Commission to hear from all sides in this contentious debate and to decide on further action. Among those scheduled to participate in the briefing are Matt Glavin, President of the Southeastern Legal Foundation; Edward Still, an attorney with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Marisa Demeo, Regional Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Karen Narasaki, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium; Charles Schultze, Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Brookings Institution; and A. Mark Neuman, Congressional Member of the Census Monitoring Board; Andrew Pincus, General Counsel of the Commerce Department; Jack C. Jackson, Jr., Government Affairs Director with the National Congress of American Indians; and Kenneth Darga, Senior Demographer with the State of Michigan.

The briefing will be held in Room 540 at the Commission headquarters, 624 Ninth Street, N.W., beginning at 10 a.m., Friday, February 12, 1999. It is open to the press and the public.