American Community Survey: Constitutional or Not?

Posted on September 17, 2011


Why an article about the Census/American Community Survey in September of 2011?  Well, it just came to an end (hopefully).  Of Course we all know the 2010 Census began in late 2009 and ended in 2010, with all the numbers already in and tallied.  What is the American Community Survey, you may ask.  Well, good question!  If you get an answer for that question, please fill me in.

The United States Constitution in Article I Section 2 states…..Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states, which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, [which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons]. The actual 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…..[NOTE: the portion in brackets [ ] was abolished by a later Amendment.]

I would like to point out some things in the above passage from the Constitution.  First of all, the purpose of the census.  So representatives (and taxes) can be apportioned, the only reason for the Census.  This is not to find out your race, your household income, how many cars you own, what kind of house you live in or anything else.  It is simply to assign the proper number of representatives to your state.  The American Community Survey, on the other hand, has nothing to pass constitutional muster.

For those who may have never received the Survey, it is a “randomly” distributed survey sent out by the Census Bureau that asks for a LOT more information.   Much of this information, in my opinion, is nobody’s business and this includes the U.S. Government.  I received one such survey several months ago.  I knew I had already completed the Census Form (as far as I am Constitutionally required, anyway) and didn’t know why I was receiving this.  According to the information that came with it, I was “required by law” to complete it under Title 13 U.S. Code, Sections 141, 193, and 221.

One thing we have been led to believe is that if something is law, it is legal.  Not so!  It must be in agreement with our Constitution.  I, for one, do not believe it is.  Apparently the U.S. Department of Commerce-Census Bureau agrees with me, they just don’t want you to know it.  After repeated mailings, notes left on my door and finally a Fed Ex mailing from them, I returned a phone call to the regional field representative.

The conversation began with me identifying myself and giving my address.  He then advised he wanted to get the survey out of the way.  I advised him I wouldn’t not be answering most of his questions, but he could proceed.  He confirmed the spelling of my name and address and then asked what race I considered myself to be, to which I advised he didn’t need to know that.  He then asked if I considered myself latino, hispanic…..I interrupted and advised I could make it easy for him.  I told him my sex and age, the number of people living in my house and their sex and age and advised him that was all he was getting.  I was prepared to be charged with a misdemeanor for not participating, go to court and appeal, if necessary, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  It turns out, that was not necessary, they know the Constitution as well.  The representative told me he thought he had enough information to prevent any further mailings from the Census Bureau.  WOW!  They are just trying to trick people in to believing they are required to answer ALL of those questions.  How many of YOU received one of the Survey’s and didn’t feel comfortable answering the questions but felt like you were required to?