Open Letter to the Census Bureau

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Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 07:08:48 -0500
To: webmaster@census.gov
From: Chris Nandor <pudge@pobox.com>
Subject: Question
I could not find an adequate address to mail this to, so I have a question.

Why does your director lie to the American people?  In a story at CNN:


http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/03/30/census.cnn/index.html

>The Census Bureau maintains that it has added just one question to the
>long form since 1990. Census officials say all of the questions they ask
>on the form are approved by Congress ahead of time, and most are
>essential for the distribution of federal funding.
>
>"It is actually needed, this information," said Census Bureau Director
>Kenneth Prewitt, at a news conference on Thursday.

That is demonstrably false.  Most of the questions on both forms are
blatantly unconstitutional.  As you know, you have a mandate to count
people.  I have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy.  It is therefore
unconstitutional for you to ask me -- and require me to answer -- any
question on the census but how many people live at this address.  You need
a warrant specific to me in order to legally require me to answer.  And the
crime in question to warrant a warrant must be something other than
refusing to comply with an illegal law that says I have to forfeit my
Fourth Amendment rights to you.  I will tell you who lives here, and that
is all, because that is all I have an obligation to provide, and it is all
you have a right to mandate of me.

So it cannot be the case that you need this information from me, because
the government cannot reasonably be said to need something that is so
blatantly unconstitutional.  Please ask your director to stop lying.  Thank
you.

Oh, and if your agency or another of the federal government attempts to
force me to comply with your illegal laws, I will come down on your
organization, very hard, with civil rights violations charges.  This is not
a threat, it is a warning.  I am quite serious about my personal liberties,
and those of my fellow citizens.  I'm not worried about it, though, because
I know that your organization knows that if it did force the issue, it
would end up going to the Supreme Court and your bureau would lose the
case, and along with it almost all of its power (at least, with the current
Supreme Court; you may very well decide to be more bold if Gore becomes
president and gets a few more liberals on the bench).

But I've spent too much of my time on this garbage, so I bid you good day,

-- 
Chris Nandor          mailto:pudge@pobox.com         http://pudge.net/
%PGPKey = ('B76E72AD', [1024, '0824090B CE73CA10  1FF77F13 8180B6B6'])

And in response:

From: webmaster@census.gov
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 12:19:08 GMT
Subject: [PIO2000033100000105] Question
To: pudge@pobox.com
Status:   

Dear %receipientname%,

This is an automated response from Public Information Office. We received your message
on 3/31/00.

We are currently investigating the questions you asked in your message,
and will have an answer for you shortly. Some requests take longer than others,
and we appreciate your patience.

In the event you need to contact us regarding your original message,
please refer to the tracking number at the top of this message.  This will help
our staff locate and review your correspondence with us.

Thank you for your request, you should be hearing from us shortly.

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