The Citizenship Question

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Department of Commerce v. New York has effectively killed the use of citizenship question in the 2020 census. The entire case and the arguments for and against the citizenship question seem to have missed the essential questions:

Why is there a census?

Who is to be counted for that purpose?

There is a census because — and only because* — Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution says that the

House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States….

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States….

… The actual Enumeration [i.e., census for the purpose of determining the apportionment of Representatives among the States, and not for the purpose of counting bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage] 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…

At this point, we must turn to Sections 1 and 2 of the 14th Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside [thus overturning Dred Scott v. Sandford, which declared blacks to be non-citizens].

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

I don’t know how the idea arose that non-citizens should be counted, but I chalk it up to sloppy usage. The words “person” and “citizen” are used interchangeably throughout the Constitution. But a “person”, for the purpose of the enumeration that determines the apportionment of Representatives, is a citizen:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens….

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers [of citizens, a.k.a. persons]….

The challenge to the citizenship question should have been blown out of the water at the outset. Instead, States that have disproportionate shares of illegal immigrants will have disproportionate representation in the House of Representatives, and will claim disproportionate shares of “free stuff”. California, I’m looking at you.
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* it says in the Constitution that “the actual Enumeration . . . shall be made . . . in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” But the operative word is “enumeration”. It follows that Congress’s power to direct the “manner” of the enumeration is restricted to such matters as when and at what cost the enumeration shall be made. The census has become an intrusive inquiry into the private affairs of citizens because Congress has stretched its constitutional mandate to “enumerate” because it has enacted unconstitutional laws (e.g., aid to States, public schools, housing subsidies) that require the asking of unconstitutional questions.

Gearing Up for the 2020 Census

You probably received in the mail a first notice from the Census Bureau, demanding that you complete an online questionnaire. I ignored that one, and received a follow-up questionnaire a few days later, which I will also ignore. But I did take the time to annotate the second notice for your amusement:

This is in keeping with my non-compliance with the desires of the census snoops in 2000 and 2010, as I relate here and here. The reason for my non-compliance is given in the post at the first link:

[T]he Constitution mandates the census, for the purpose of apportioning membership in the House of Representatives among the States. And it says in the Constitution that “the actual Enumeration . . . shall be made . . . in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” But the operative word is “enumeration.” It follows that Congress’s power to direct the “manner” of the enumeration is restricted to such matters as when and at what cost the enumeration shall be made.

The census form (even the short one) has long since become intrusive and vastly overblown in relation to the constitutional purpose of the census. Now, as in 2000 and 2010, I refuse to violate the Constitution.

Sorkin’s Left-Wing Propaganda Machine

Thanks (?) to Netflix streaming video, I’m watching episodes of The West Wing that I had missed the first time around. I missed the episodes because I had an inkling that The West Wing portrayed do-good Democrat meddlers in a favorable light. Several seasons into the show, I finally relented to my wife’s pleas to watch it. And so I became a regular viewer.

I endured The West Wing for its snappy dialogue and semi-accurate though cartoonish, depictions of inside politics. But by the end of the series, I had tired of the show’s incessant propagandizing for leftist causes.

Then, along came Roku and streaming video, and the opportunity to see the earlier seasons that we had missed because of my recalcitrance. My wife insisted, so here I am again, watching the same snappy dialogue and semi-engaging stories unfold in the service of bigger government. And, of course, bigger is better because Aaron Sorkin makes it look that way: a wise president, crammed full of encyclopedic knowledge; staffers whose IQs must qualify them for the Triple Nine Society, and whose wit crackles like lightning in an Oklahoma thunderstorm; evil Republicans whose goal in life is to stand in the way of technocratic progress (national bankruptcy and the loss of individual freedom don’t rate a mention); and a plethora of “worthy” causes that the West-Wingers seek to advance, without regard for national bankruptcy and individual freedom.

Thus far, I’ve watched the first thirteen episodes of the first season. What have I “learned”? Here’s a sample:

When persons of the Christian right refer to “New Yorkers” they mean “Jews.” This suggests excessive sensitivity on Mr. Sorkin’s part, not to mention a tin ear. In fact, there is ample evidence that a “New Yorker” is a pushy, obnoxious person, regardless of ethnicity. But Sorkin couldn’t waste an opportunity to paint persons of the Christian right as anti-Semitic bigots.

When an American military transport is shot down by a Syrian missile, the only choices presented to President Bartlett (the all-wise, all-knowing one) are a token retaliatory strike and a massive retaliatory strike that would kill thousands of civilians. Hmm… A lot of middle ground is omitted, including a decapitation strike, which at the time (1999) would have been timely and popular in the U.S. Well, the all-wise, all-knowing (AWAK) president somehow doesn’t come up with a middle-ground plan, so he wimps out and orders the token strike. An obvious defense of Clinton’s abject wimpiness in the wake of the bombings of two U.S. embassies in 1998.

It’s okay to use sampling in the decennial census because the Constitution doesn’t say how the census should be conducted. Well, that’s the line taken by Toby Ziegler — the irritating “New Yorker” who serves as the AWAK president’s chief speech writer. However, Mr. Z fails to quote the Constitution correctly when lecturing the evil Republicans whom he summons to the White House for the purpose of delivering Mr. Sorkin’s misleading version of the Constitution’s language about the census. Mr. Z conveniently omits the word “enumeration,” which clearly implies a count, not an estimate, and which occurs twice in the clause about the census (Article I, Section 2, clause 3). Mr. Z further makes a big deal about the part of that clause which (in the original Constitution) counts a slave as three-fifths of a person. He conveniently omits to mention that (a) the three-fifths rule was mooted by the ratification of Amendment XIV in 1866, and (b) the three-fifths rule was a political compromise that favored the non-slave North, not a statement about the worthiness or unworthiness of slaves as persons. All of this finagling is in the service of the not-very-subliminal message that anyone who opposes statistical estimation of the population must be a racist. (A prescient line, which is now recycled as “everyone who opposes Obama’s policies must be a racist.”)

Then there’s the WASP-y nominee for the Supreme Court whose name must be withdrawn by the AWAK president, who (unaccountably) doesn’t know that the nominee holds views similar to those of Robert Bork about the source of rights. A strange nomination for an AWAK liberal. But the undoing of it enables the same AWAK liberal to nominate a humble judge of Hispanic ethnicity, and to show the door to the WASP-y Bork-like creep. The fact that the WASP-y nominee was represents the true minority group goes unmentioned during the closing moments of the episode. Those are given to an unseemly demonstration by members of the White House staff as the Hispanic nominee-to-be is paraded from the Oval Office through the warren of staff offices (an unlikely route), to the obvious delight of a token Hispanic staff member.

Finally, for now, there is a Matthew Shepard-like victim whose murder (like the real one) justifies the passage of thought-crime legislation. (The motive for the killing of Matthew Shepard probably wasn’t his homosexuality, though his homosexuality proved convenient to the purveyors of thought-criminalization.) In a twist that’s meant to shame critics of homosexuality, the victim’s father turns out to be a staunch defender of his late son’s “lifestyle.” This gives the father a chance to mouth off about the AWAK president’s namby-pamby approach to “gay rights” issues, such as the nominal ban on homosexuals in the armed forces. (A slam at Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.) Well, leave it to a “New Yorker” like Sorkin to glorify the practitioners of disgusting physical acts that serve to spread AIDS and other dread diseases, and which bear no relation to the evolutionary purposes served by male organs and orifices. (Evolution is okay with lefties, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of debauchery or lead to disparities in intelligence.)

But the dialogue is snappy.

The Census of 2010: Bring It On

I’m waiting eagerly for the census form to arrive in the mail. Its arrival will give me an opportunity to comply with the “real” Constitution by committing an act of civil disobedience. Specifically, I will refuse to answer the questions that have nothing to do with the constitutional purpose of the census.

Yes, the Constitution mandates the census, for the purpose of apportioning membership in the House of Representatives among the States. And it says in the Constitution that “the actual Enumeration . . . shall be made . . . in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” But the operative word is “enumeration.” It follows that Congress’s power to direct the “manner” of the enumeration is restricted to such matters as when and at what cost the enumeration shall be made.

In fact,  nine of the questions asked on this year’s ten-question census form are  extraneous to the constitutional purpose of determining the number of persons living in each State. It is telling that the “box” in which the constitutional purpose of the census is stated contains only question 1: “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?” The layout of the form indicates clearly that the other nine questions are unnecessary, not to mention intrusive; for example: Do you own or rent your home? Is it mortgaged? What’s your phone number, age, and date of birth? Are you Hispanic? What’s your race (since the abolition of slavery, relevant only to the exclusion of “Indians not taxed” from the enumeration)? Do you sometimes live or stay somewhere else, and why?

Worse than the basic census form is the American Community Survey (ACS), which is sent to a random sample of addresses. The survey redoubles the constitutional irrelevance and unwarranted intrusiveness of the basic census form by asking about such things as the characteristics of your dwelling (e.g., number of rooms, number of bathrooms, age of building, types of appliances), number of automobiles you own, cost and type of utilities you use, the estimated value of your home, your annual real-estate taxes, the amount of mortgage payment, your education, your type of employment and work status, etc., etc., etc.

According to the Census Bureau,

The 2010 Census will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for things like:

  • Hospitals
  • Job training centers
  • Schools
  • Senior centers
  • Bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects
  • Emergency services

The data collected by the census also help determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It is noteworthy that the constitutional purpose of the census is stated as an afterthought, whereas top billing is given to several unconstitutional purposes — none of which derives from the powers granted Congress in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. The fact that courts have upheld the constitutionality of extraneous, intrusive questions is no proof of their constitutionality. The real Constitution is what the Constitution says, not what some court says.

Nor is there a scintilla of a penumbra of a justification in the Constitution for the use of the census to satisfy the desire of social “scientists” to collect data from which they can derive unconstitutional policy prescriptions..Yet, the Census Bureau boldly proclaims the value of the census as a source of data for such endeavors by quoting one such “scientist”:

“For many sociologists and other scholars like me, the census data that is compiled every 10 years is flat-out the most reliable, comprehensive, and best source of data on the American population.”

— C.N. Le, Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst

In addition to the essential unconstitutionality of the census, as it is conducted, there is the potential for the misuse of the census by an administration that is determined to micromanage our lives, as the present administration is wont to do. (A primary case in point: “health care reform.”)

As if that weren’t enough, Hans A. von Spakovsky notes that a court in Delaware has ruled that “there is a separate violation for each question you don’t answer. So, on this year’s ten-question Census form, you could be fined as much $1,000” — even though it is evident that the law (U.S. Code, Title 13, Section 221) contemplates a maximum fine of $100:

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.

The operative phrase is “any of the questions,” meaning any or all of them. Otherwise, the phrase would read “a question.” But arrogant, statist judges — like arrogant, statist executives and legislators — have no respect for the Constitution or laws that threaten to curb their power-lust.

Nevertheless, as von Spakovsky observes,

If there was a mass refusal by millions of Americans to answer parts of the form — like the race question — the U.S. Justice Department would not have the resources to prosecute everyone who violated the law. But you could be prosecuted and fined . . . .

What’s a Constitution-abiding citizen to do? Aside from giving false answers, which is neither principled nor wise (the potential penalty is five times greater than the penalty for not answering), I see three options:

1. Don’t return the census form(s) and avoid the census-taker when he comes a-calling. If the census-taker happens to catch you at home, you can put him off by recording his ID and telling him to return at some future time, after you have had a chance to call the Regional Census Center to confirm his identity. (If the census-taker gives you a phone number to call, explain to him that it would be imprudent of you to rely on him to give you a valid number.) It might just happen that you forget to be home at the agreed time, or that you don’t hear the doorbell.

2. Answer question 1 and its equivalent on the ACS (if you receive it), and return the form(s). Respond to follow-up visits by the census taker as suggested in 1.

3. Answer question 1 and its equivalent on the ACS (if you receive it), and return the form(s) with an note explaining the constitutional basis for your refusal to answer the other questions. Undaunted, the census-taker will come a-calling, and you (equally undaunted) can deal with him as suggested above. Don’t argue; just avoid.

In the census of 2000, I received the long census form (the predecessor of the ACS), and chose to exercise option 3. The census-taker gave up, and I never heard from a prosecutor. I can’t guarantee the same outcome (for you or me) this time around. But I intend, once again, to resist the unconstitutional intrusion of Big Brother’s minions into my life. I urge you to join me in sending this message to Washington:

Get out of my home and out of my life!

UPDATE (05/10/10):

See this, this, and this for more about Census 2010.