Nathan R. Jessup

Has The Census Become Unconstitutional?

In America, Congress, freedom, US Senate on February 25, 2010 at 9:36 pm

In the video, Jerryday.com explains how the US Census now greatly oversteps Constitutional boundaries-if anyone cares. Just sayin’…

(Source: USconstitution.net) The Constitution includes the phrase “[An] Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” Congress first met in 1789, and the first national census was held in 1790.

Today, the controlling law for the U.S. Census is Title 13 of the U.S. Code. There is a lot of census data collected in the United States today, such as economic figures, sales and production figures, and agricultural statistics. Still, the head count is the only part of the census that is called for by the Constitution. The code for the enumeration can be found in 13 USC 141. In this code, the census is directed to be taken in 1980 and every ten years thereafter, and that the count is to be taken on April 1. The returns must be completed within nine months for use in apportionment of representatives. The code also specifies a mid-decade census be taken in 1985 and every ten years thereafter. This count need not be a head count (sampling may be used) though the data cannot be used for apportionment.

So when that knock on your door comes just remember your rights…

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  1. Well, if you take a narrow interpretation of “manner” as only including the method of collection (no sampling and modeling, door-to-door vs. mail, etc.) you’d be right. But if a broader interpretation of “manner” includes the content of what’s asked, you’d be wrong. The Constitution only describes who has the authority to determine the “manner” (Congress) and is otherwise silent.

    According to the Census web site, it was determined back in 1901 that Congress has the authority to determine the content, and that it was Constitutional.

    See http://2010.census.gov/2010census/why/constitutional.php for more.

    Secondly, while Mr. Day is fond of casting this all in the most fearsome light (a Census taker! at your door! with a clip board!) most people by FAR get their Census questionnaires in the mail.

    It’s entirely harmless. And it helps government run more efficiently. IMO any one who fails to fill out the Census (long or short form) completely is missing the boat and cutting off their nose to spite their face: data from the Census is used in more ways than you can imagine; not just government and its planning, but also the corporations whose stock you have in your portfolio.

    Fill it out. It’s a good thing.

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