Have you gotten your census questions in the mail?

Have you thought at all about federal government intrusion in your life at any level lately?  Well here is a little microcosm of the macrocosm of the problem of big government.  It brings up all the questions about what questions do ‘they’ have a right to ask, and what questions are necessary for the census and what your rights are in the process.

What does the Constitution say?

First let’s examine what the constitution says about the census which is found in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3.

Article. I.

Section. 2.

Clause 3: 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. (See Note 2) 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. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Note 2: The part of this Clause relating to the mode of apportionment of representatives among the several States has been affected by Section 2 of amendment XIV, and as to taxes on incomes without apportionment by amendment XVI.


What powers are reserved?

It seems worth mentioning here that powers not delegated are retained by the states and the people respectively, but then we all know about the tenth amendment right?  Here it is for reference just in case you need to refresh your memory.  It is a very hot topic these days in our state houses!

Article [X.]

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So then the question arises did Congress pass any laws about the Census questions and what is proper to ask and what is required to answer if anything and what are the penalties related to same?

Thinking out loud here it seems that anyone can ask anything they want any time they want.  The necessary information for a census is how many people live at the residence.  But what about citizenship and visitors from foreign countries you might ask.  And what if not everyone answers the form the same way.  And what if now we are setting population numbers and apportionment based on illegal aliens among us?  All because we simply cannot bring ourselves to control our borders and insist that those coming here do so legally.  Surely no one would list illegals on a census – would they?

What are the requirements on those of us here legally?

What does the Census ask?

This link provides a look at 10 questions for all households to complete by mail.  Many of these questions are troubling for many reasons.

An Oklahoma state representative, Sally Kern has said this on her website in an article entitled “Remember, no matter what they ask, you really only need to tell them how many people live at your address.”

What does the Census say about legal requirements?

According to Title 13, Section 221 (Census, Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers) of the United States Code, persons who fail or refuse to respond to the mail-back census form, or refuse to respond to a follow-up census taker can be fined up to $100. Persons who knowingly provide false information to the census can be fined up to $500.

Additional Constitutional Issues to Ponder:

Equal Protection Clause

“nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”

Amendment IV
Unreasonable search and seizure

Amendment V
Due process, right to not incriminate


In an ever so general summation, remember that our unalienable rights must be exercised to be retained.  It is easy to fall into the trap of the path of least resistance when dealing with these matters.  Please prayerfully ponder the questions to answer and the right thing to do as you complete the census form and return it.  Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves if you should have to deal with a follow-up visit.  If you didn’t give them a phone number or you don’t have a land line, then phone call intrusions will not be possible.  Answer wisely and prayerfully and protect your family and your privacy in the midst of an information hungry society.

One final thought on privacy is that although people collecting information often guarantee  confidentiality, that is a hard promise to deliver on because of the easy migration of data and information these days.  So the less information public entities have on you, the less privacy anyone can violate willfully or unwittingly.

Where do you draw the line?

Comments and discussion are encouraged on this topic as always.  Please provide links and references to additional information.   Every head of household will have to decide how to handle this matter in the next few weeks!