Census director Robert Groves

While the forms for the 2010 Census are sitting on shelves in living rooms and kitchens across the continent, a small but growing campaign to oppose the “intrusive” questionnaire is developing.

A statement released today by a leader of the Constitution Party of Oregon recommends that people respond only to the “enumeration” part of the Census and suggested the rest of it is the equivalent of an unpleasant medical procedure.

“The Census has become some sort of involuntary colonoscopy,” said the statement from Bob Ekstrom, the Columbia County chairman for the party. “With the 2010 A.D. Census, the federal government has overstepped its authority. Citizens are balking at demands that they divulge all kinds of private information.”

Bloggers are raising hoots and howls of opposition to the questions posed to Americans on the Census, especially the expanded community survey long form. Among the issues probed are marital status and history, fertility, ancestry, birth place, language, education, disabilities, income, location of job and time of commute, vehicles, insurance, number of bedrooms, telephone and heating details, mortgage payments and amounts and other financial data.

That’s in addition to name, birth dates and other personal details.

Ekstrom said, “Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution gives us the legal directives regarding the Census. Anyone who is serious about their citizenship and committed to the defense of the Constitution against enemies, foreign or domestic, should willingly supply the number of persons from your household.”

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But he added, “Not anything except the number of persons in your household.”

“The fines, fees and such are bluff and fear mongering,” Ekstrom said. “The federal government has simply hijacked the authorized Census to advance its unauthorized programs. We should thank God for this timely opportunity to resist run-amok federal government. Much good will come from the resistance.”

During 2007 when the American Community Survey portion of the Census Bureau’s responsibilities were under way, spokesman Clyve Richmond told WND, “The Census Bureau has never prosecuted anybody. We try to work with people and explain how useful the information is.”

The Associated Press reported this week the Census Bureau “rarely” seeks fines for failing to answer.

Census spokeswoman Samantha O’Neil told WND yesterday there were no fines levied for failure to respond in the 2000 Census.

“We’ve been very successful in increasing participation through advertising, public relations and getting the word out how importance this is,” she said.

But she also pointed out the Census is required under the Constitution, and the agency adds myriad questions about personal details to the enumeration under a provision that the Census shall be carried out in “such manner as [Congress] shall by law direct.”

In a Census website promotion, the agency, over which this year the president demanded oversight in a move that was described as strictly political, cites a “Supreme Court” action to “characterize as unquestionable the power of Congress to require both an enumeration and the collection of statistics in the Census.”

But the “Legal Tender Cases” cited by Census officials dealt with currency following the Civil War and The Price of Liberty blog, concluded, “The reference to the Legal Tender Cases in 1870 is meaningless because the comment was dictum (a judge’s expression of opinion on a point other than the precise issue involved in determining the case). The statement by the court was not the holding in the case.”

The blog also noted a 1999 case cited was “statistical sampling,” and the Census explanation that a district court found the questions are not limited to enumeration if the information is “necessary and proper” for the exercise of constitutional powers is questionable.

“In the 1901 quote we find the words ‘necessary and proper.’ These words appear in Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution. This provision grants Congress the power: ‘To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof,'” the blog reported.

“There are several reasons why, in my opinion, the Necessary and Proper Clause cannot constitutionally apply to the Census, or its evil companion, the American Community Survey, which masquerades as part of the actual Census,” said the commentary.

It listed that:

  • The Census clause contains a self-executing provision and has no need for another clause, like the Necessary and Proper language.

  • The Census Bureau says the additional questions are for “socioeconomic” reasons, but that’s unrelated to an enumeration.
  • The Constitution authorizes a 10-year Census, not something in between, such as the yearly American Community Survey.

“The Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress the power to enact laws to put a specific power into effect. It does not grant Congress the power to use one clause as a pretext to extract information to put another clause into effect,” said the commentary by Robert Greenslade.

Also questioned was a Census reference to “when necessary for governance.”

“Under the guise of the Census and through the power to prescribe the mode for conducting the actual enumeration, the federal government is using this clause to transform its information requests into a valid exercise of constitutional authority. The federal government is asserting that when it determines information is ‘necessary for governance,’ the request is proper irrespective of whether the clause in question grants them a power or limits their power,” the report said.

Greenslade cited another court case, Kilbourn v. Thompson, in which the Supreme Court said, “Neither branch of the legislative department, still less any merely administrative body, established by Congress, possesses, or can be invested with, a general power of making inquiry into the private affairs of the citizens.”

Census officials declined to respond to multiple WND requests for an explanation of their citations.

Many critics also contend that the constitutional directive that the Census shall be carried out in “such manner as they shall by law direct” refers to the actual count and does not allow for demanding personal information.

Jack Brown, the Constitution Party Oregon’s chief, contended to WND, “The only questions that need to be answered are how many live bodies are there in residences.”

Critics also point out that while the Census promises confidentiality, by law all information can be released after 72 years, which may not affect a current responder but certainly could impact a later generation.

Further, critics cite claims that Census information was used at the outset of World War II to round up and intern Japanese Americans.

In a 2000 report in the New York Times, Steven Holmes wrote about a research project that revealed the Census Bureau identified concentrations of people of Japanese ancestry in various city blocks and even loaned a senior Census Bureau official to work with the War Department on the relocation program following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Census also explained to WND the apparent contradiction that the letters, dated as early as March 1, suggest that residents fill out their forms “today,” even though the questions start with the people who “were” living at the location on April 1, 2010.

“We have found the best way to get an accurate count is to pick one specific moment in time. What we’re asking is get your form in the mail with accurate information that would reflect your household on April 1,” said O’Neil. “If you’re moving wait and tell us what your address is.”

What about those who may die before April 1?

“That’s such a small number of people, the positive attributes of counting on one day outweigh the negatives for that reason,” she said.

Robert Groves, the Census Bureau director, has made the issue of the current questionnaire far more than a request from the government for enumeration information, suggesting even religious leaders exhort their congregants to provide detailed information.

“I … will ask again now, that every political, corporate, community and religious leader get the message out that the cost and quality of the 2010 Census is in our hands. We really need your help in encouraging and motivating everyone in your states to participate, and in particular, to mail back a completed form and cooperate with the enumerators,” he told congressional committee just a few weeks ago.

Groves also said he expects to spend nearly $2.8 billion chasing down people who choose not to respond. WND previously reported the Census can threaten nonresponders with fines up to $5,000.

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