I received our census letter today and looked all over to find the disclaimer that you only have to answer the first question. To my dismay, it is not there. A few minutes of googling later, I realized that by statute, we are required to answer all questions.

I don't think so.

Since it's inception, the census has asked questions directly related to understanding the headcount of the country. The original census included only three questions: color, free or slave status and the sex of free white persons. These questions were used as a result of the racist 3/5ths rule that counted slaves as only 3/5ths, and the sexist rule that women could not vote so were not used to calculate representatives.

As morally reprehensible as these are, the questions were directly related to the task at hand, counting the populace in order to determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives. Therefore, after the end of slavery, and with women's suffrage, these questions are no longer needed to properly account for the population and should have been removed from the questionnaire.

Therefore, questions related to anything outside of the direct requirement of counting the population for representation and direct taxation (which is a-whole-nother topic all together) are an invasion of privacy under the 4th and 5th amendments. The government is unapologetic in its purpose, specifically saying that the data collect is used to direct government spending, something never found in the constitution.

Interestingly enough, it was not until the Raw... I mean... New Deal era, and the 1940 census that demographic information was requested. Given that era's ability to pass all measure of unconstitutional government policies and agencies, it is not surprising that the Census was able to be used to collect auxiliary data about the population. It is also not surprising that it was the 1930 and 1940 census that was used by FDR to illegally and immorally round up Japanese Americans and place them in concentration camps during WWII. Of course the law protects our data collected by the census bureau from the big bad government, right? Don't count on it.

I went back and forth on how to quietly refuse. I stumbled on a form letter that I adapted to my liking and will be including a copy of the following when I mail back my form.


c/o U.S. Census Bureau
8411 Kelso Drive
Essex MD 21260-1111

MARCH 17, 2010

To Whom It May Concern:

The U.S. Constitution allows you to inquire as to how many persons are living at my residence as of April 1, 2010. I have provided you with that information.

You are not authorized to ask me any additional information, nor will I voluntarily provide you with any additional information.

Although your agency states that my answers will be kept “confidential” and that any information obtained from me (i.e. my phone number, my gender, my age, my ethnicity) will be not be shared by or with anyone, I believe these questions to be a direct invasion of my privacy based on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as described in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630, as protection against all governmental invasions "of the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life.'' Given that past illegal uses of census data have been witnessed, the worst of which leading to the unlawful imprisonment of a minority group, I am refusing to answer these unconstitutional questions.

Since the current statutes that enable auxiliary questions besides how many people are living at my residence are unconstitutional as stated above, “[t]he general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void. Unconstitutional law bears no power to enforce, it purports to settle as if it never existed, for unconstitutionality dates from the enactment of such a law and not such time as branded in an open court of law. It confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed. No courts are bound to uphold it and no persons are bound to obey it.” 16 Am Jur 256.


An American Citizen

P.S. – In 1980, the census cost less than $5 per person to administer. Ten years ago, it was less than $16 per person. Current estimates show your agency spending nearly $50 per person on the 2010 census. I believe that this taxpayer expense could be significantly reduced by limiting the census to what is constitutionally allowed.


Dwayne Boulden said…
I was called out on my "racist 3/5ths" comment by a friend. His comment was that the root of the compromise was actually giving them status that they otherwise would not have (since the north only wanted to count freeman).

I do not believe that either side of this political debate actually cared about the slaves. Like all things, there may have been individuals who cared, but the real debate was self-serving political positioning.

I stand by my comment that the very root of the 3/5ths compromise is founded in racism.
La Reina said…
Thanks, Dwayne; Oliver and I were struggling to decide what to do without calling down the wrath of Tío Sam on our household. We borrowed your letter. I hope you don't mind.