Saturday, April 03, 2010


While researching my last post, I happened upon a website at, which asks the burning question: How much information are you really required to give?

And of course, as I mentioned in that last post, the Constitution is clear that the government is required to hold a census every ten years "in such manner as they shall by law direct."  And as I pointed out, the census law clearly states that you have to answer every question truthfully or be fined.  So the answer to the question of how much info you're really required to give should be relatively simple: Everything they ask for.

But apparently, that approach is just a little too straight forward for the folks at censusfacts, as they not only ignore the law governing the issue, they don't even cite the sentence from the Constitution which mentions the census.  That's right, they wrote an entire piece on the constitutionality of the Census, but failed to see what the actual constitution says about it. 

Apparently, there's another approach to conveying facts than the one the rest of us use, which doesn't involve the use of any relevant facts.  How interesting.

Noah Webster's Constitution

Not that they're immune to the concept of citations, as they do manage to quote Webster's Dictionary on the meaning of the word "census."  And because that dictionary says that a "census" involves counting people, that's apparently the limit to what a census can possibly be and anything beyond that must be unconstitutional.

And sure, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Law defines it as:
a periodic governmental count of a population that usually includes social and economic information (as occupations, ages, and incomes)

But that's just a liberal activist dictionary, as are all the other dictionaries that say the same thing.  That's why censusfacts went old school, citing Noah Webster's Dictionary of 1828.  Because that's the way our Founding Fathers would have wanted it.  Who needs a law degree when I can just use an old dictionary instead?

Down the Rabbit Hole

From there, the website takes an odd turn.  They mention the Title 13 law which says that we're required to answer all the questions, but insists that since "the rule governing statutory construction requires that we do not construe a statute so strictly as to render it unconstitutional," that the law couldn't possibly demand this other information, because it would violate the Constitution.

Yet...nothing in the Constitution limits the Census to only performing a simple headcount; but rather says that Congress will decide what the Census will be, so there is no violation here.  And they'd have known that if they bothered reading the Constitution they keep talking about.  But instead, they're relying upon Noah Webster's narrow definition as being a legal substitute for the Constitution, and because Webster didn't say the Census could collect other data, the law can't say otherwise; even if it absolutely does.

From there, they walk to the All-Mighty 10th Amendment, which sits alongside the 2nd Amendment in the conservative pantheon as being the only parts of the Constitution that count, to declare that Title 13 couldn't be valid because the Constitution doesn't outright say that they can collect this other information; even though the Constitution clearly says that this law is within the powers of Congress. 

But no matter, that part of the Constitution isn't in the 2nd or 10th Amendments, so it doesn't count. 

Census in Wonderland

And so censusfacts gleefully declares:
Having established that federal government may not legitimately expand their census inquries beyond enumerating the people in the districts, we shall now see how our courts have treated the issue.
And what do they find?  A state appellette court from 1897 which declared that the Republic of Hawaii couldn't make a census of wealth, and a case from 1971 which said that the Census was constitutional.  But we're informed that this second case was "completely irrelevant", because it didn't cover the specific issue of constitutional authority, and instead stated that the law wasn't vague and wasn't an invasion of privacy.  So it should be assumed that the law is unconstitutional because no case has said that it wasn't.

Therefore, if a census taker comes to your door and you get fined $100, rather than answering the questions or paying the small fee, "You can challenge the fine on the basis of the 10th Amendment and be on solid legal ground." 
That's right.  Solid legal footing which ignores the Constitution and the law, but instead involves a 180-year old dictionary, total ignorance of constitutional law, and a complete disregard for common sense.  Armed with that, you need to "resist the encroaching onslaught of socialism" and take "responsibility for the legacy of freedom that we leave our descendants.

Because there is no greater infringement of freedom than to allow the government to know your name, the type of home you live in, or the color of your skin.  They're going to have to guess, just like everyone else.

1 comment:

ex DLB said...

I'm thinking that capital punishment might be in order for failing to answer the census. Not sure if that would screw up the count or make it more accurate.