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Thread: Got an American Community Survey

  1. #1
    Regular Member bigdaddy1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Southsider der hey

    Got an American Community Survey

    I got one, they say there are "penalties" if I don't answer their intrusive questions or answer incorrectly. What questions can they legally ask and what questions can I legally ignore?
    What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Fairborn, Ohio, USA
    Wikipedia says, "To date, no person has ever been charged with a crime for refusing to answer the ACS." The Census Bureau says that it prefers to gain willing participation. However, the law does create the possibility of a $5000 fine for not cooperating.

    I suspect that no one has been charged because they fear losing their stick in a court challenge. They prefer to be able to say that there is a fine rather than try to collect it and losing the ability to say it exists.

  3. #3
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
    Article I Section 2 Paragraph 3 of the constitution:

    "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."

    This allows for the government to take a decennial survey to 'enumerate' the population for the purpose of appointing representatives. It doesn't matter what USC that congress passes that says otherwise because nowhere in the constitution does it give congress the authority to create such a law. I suspect this is why no one has ever actually been fined, because if the fine was challenged in court on a constitutional basis it would most likely die a horrible death. Than there would be legal precedent for refusing to fill out these intrusive ACS forms. Of course the Census Bureau doesn't want that.

    My opinion, I am not a lawyer so take it for what its worth (not much), is simply ignore it. If you get Census Bureau employees on at your front door just ask them to leave and/or trespass them from the property, but DON'T lie to them. Lying to census employees can indeed lead to a fine, can't seem to find the cite that I used to have for someone being fined for lying on the form. Can anyone verify? And certainly don't threaten them, they're still federal employees not matter how obtuse they can be.

    If anyone has a different interpretation of the law, please let me know. I'm always happy to learn more.
    DISCLAIMER: This post may contain libertarian ideas and language that are consistent with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including a belief in liberty, rule of law, and natural rights. It may also contain opinions critical of government and the tyrannies being committed by such. If you are an authoritarian, statist, or other freedom hater, side effects of reading this post may include high blood pressure, loose stool, severe genital itching, and diarrhea of the mouth.

  4. #4
    Regular Member F350's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    The High Plains of Wyoming
    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy1 View Post
    I got one, they say there are "penalties" if I don't answer their intrusive questions or answer incorrectly. What questions can they legally ask and what questions can I legally ignore?
    I got a "long form" census form in 1990 with the same warning about answering every question truthfully, all questions other than number of people living at the address were answered...


    All questions answered and answered truthfully (and in red Sharpie); I never heard back from them.
    Last edited by F350; 09-28-2013 at 06:27 PM.

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