Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Constitution and the Census

I got my warning from the U.S. Census. “Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may receive its fair share.”

That’s slightly less insulting than the Census Bureau’s radio spots that tell us that we won’t even know how many traffic lights or teachers our community needs unless the federal government tells us. (See my post for February 24.)

Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for a census (“Enumeration”) only for the purpose of determining how many representatives each state should have in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives is determined by the population of each state. No other purpose for the decennial census was contemplated by the Founders. It is a good question as to when any other purpose arose, but certainly the number and reach of these other purposes has increased in the past one hundred years.

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