Libertarians oppose census questions

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Libertarians oppose census questions

WASHINGTON – Libertarian Party (LP) Chairman William Redpath released the following statement today regarding the 2010 census:

“The Libertarian Party believes that the federal government’s current census procedures are unconstitutional, unnecessary, and too expensive. We believe that the census is constitutionally limited to collecting only one piece of information about each residence: the number of persons living in it. We urge Congress to change the census laws to comply with this constitutional limitation.

“The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to provide for a census in order to apportion Representatives correctly. The Constitution does not empower Congress to use a census for any other purpose. There is no need for Congress to collect additional information such as names, races, ages, sexes, or home ownership status. Unfortunately, the federal government wants to use the additional information to fine tune its control over the lives and money of the American people.

“The 2010 census is expected to cost over $14 billion. A recent report from the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce indicates that preparations for the 2010 census have already been filled with waste and bloat. A proper census, limited to just a headcount, would be far less expensive.

“Many Americans fear that the Census Bureau will not keep their information secret, and might turn personal details over to other government agencies. The Census Bureau promises that they will keep everything confidential, but they have broken that promise in the past. As David Kopel of the libertarian Cato Institute has pointed out, during World War I the Census Bureau handed over lists of names and addresses so the federal government could search for draft resisters. And, shockingly, during World War II, the Census Bureau told the Justice Department which neighborhoods had high concentrations of Japanese-Americans. The federal government then used that information to find Japanese-Americans and imprison them in concentration camps.

“As Congressman Ron Paul, 1988 Libertarian candidate for President, recently said, ‘If the federal government really wants to increase compliance with the census, it should abide by the Constitution and limit its inquiry to one simple question: How many people live here?'”

For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.

The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets and civil liberties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.

6 thoughts on “Libertarians oppose census questions

  1. Tom Blanton

    We urge Congress to change the census laws…

    Oh my, that sounds very radical and threatening. Couldn’t Mr. Redpath have said something like:

    We respectfully request that Congress make incremental minor changes to the census laws over the next few census periods to comply with the Constitution.

    The census laws didn’t get where they are all at once and we can’t expect change to occur all at once. The LP shouldn’t make impossible demands on those in Congress that serve our great nation.

    We can all be thankful that the LP has moderated its position on the census since 2000. At that time, the insane radical anarchists were in charge and they did great damage to the LP forever by advocating an illegal boycott of the census. But, even more moderation will be required over the next few decades before the LP can rid itself of its radical image and become truly mainstream like Republicans and Democrats.

    I hope Mr. Redpath will soften his tone in the future. Perhaps he should start dressing and speaking like Mr. Rogers.

  2. Ian Wilder

    Have to say I questioned the census spending. When I first saw the Census 2010 plastic coffee mugs, I just wondered why. Then they sent out the letters telling you to expect a letter. Seems like a direct marketing company’s dream job, but not a taxpayer. Gotta be a better way to reach out to people.

  3. AroundtheblockAFT

    The modern libertarian movement’s first big public notice came in 1970 with a front page article in the Wall Street Journal about SIL’s orchestrated resistance to the Census (which was far more intrusive in those days). Had the Tea Partiers not been so caught up in the Health Insurance Fight, resistance to the 2010 census could have been phenomenal. Too late now – most people have already returned their form.

  4. Steve

    @2 Ian – not only did they send me a letter telling me to expect a letter, but after I sent it back in with the Constitution mandated question filled out, I got another letter asking me to either send back the form or if I had done so already, kindly ignore this letter.

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