Does the American Community Survey Form Conflict with the U.S. Constitution?

Remind me again just where does the Constitution give the Census Bureau permission to ask questions outside the realm of  “enumerating” the population?

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”  ~Voltaire

“Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t.  You cannot shirk this and be a man.  To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.”  ~Mark Twain

My personal solution?  Trash the American Community Survey and request the 2010 Census short form.

Do Census folks really need to know if my toilet flushes?
BRENNA FAY RHODES – Guest column – Waco Tribune
Saturday January 30, 2010

I was being stalked. For several weeks our family was harassed on our own property. It escalated from loud and insistent knocking during our baby’s naptime, to notes left on our door, to a strange car blocking our driveway, and eventually even more outrageous badgering. My stalker disregarded the “no trespassing” signs on our gates and banged on the door, hollering, “If you don’t talk to me, I’ll just come back!”

Was a desperate criminal stalking me? Nope. This stalker wore a United States Census Bureau badge.

It started several months ago, when the Census Bureau mailed an American Community Survey to our house. My husband and I were shocked at the questions it contained.

These were not typical census questions. This was a 28-page form that asked things such as:

“What time do you leave home for work?”

“Do you have difficulty making decisions?”

“Do you have difficulty bathing?”

It asked about our income, mortgage payments, insurance and college degrees. “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW” was written next to the threat of fines up to $5,000 for noncompliance.

Offended by the intrusive questions, I did not return the survey, so they mailed copies to me. Then came postcard reminders; later the phone calls began. At all hours of the day (including weekends), up until 9 p.m., long after our children were asleep, the calls from the Census Bureau kept coming. We didn’t give in. At that point, the Census Bureau brought their harassment tactics right up to my front door.

After weeks of intimidation, the last straw came when a neighbor called to say that the census worker was going door to door on our street, asking people for information about our children. My husband and I raced to the neighbor’s house, flatly told the census worker the number of people in our home, and told her in no uncertain terms to stay away from our family. She hasn’t been back.

If you’re wondering why I wouldn’t simply answer the questions, with the government’s assurance that my answers would be kept confidential, you’re missing the point. I refuse to answer the American Community Survey because I live in America, and this is still a free society. Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution empowers my government to “enumerate” the people. Enumerate means to count. The Census Bureau goes far beyond the count, assuming the right to scrutinize the number of sick days we take from work, what kind of vehicle we drive and whether our toilets flush.

According to my Constitution, the census is to “enumerate” the people. As a good citizen, I’ll allow my government to do just that. I will stand up and be counted. Period.

Brenna Fay Rhodes grew up near Waco and is now raising her family here. Contact her at

Explore posts in the same categories: patriotism, politics

32 Comments on “Does the American Community Survey Form Conflict with the U.S. Constitution?”

  1. senor doeboy Says:

    “What time do you leave home for work?” When I have to.

    “Do you have difficulty making decisions?” No, I just listen to Obamessiah through my tin foil hat for directives.

    “Do you have difficulty bathing?” I have to wait for a directive from the Obamessiah for that to happen.


    Technically it only says you have to respond… not that your response has to be reasonable. Try reading some Alice in Wonderland for insperations for filling out their forms and mail it in.

  2. tgusa Says:

    I’m shocked that they didn’t ask what your favorite position is or how you feel about fisting. You are right, count me, and thats it. Its as if they want to gather enough info on you to all of a sudden replace you with a pod person or something. Besides the fact that this info is rife for abuse. Single women living alone, what time your kids leave for school, when house is empty. Remember that BTK murderer used his position to prey on women and he is probably long from the only one. I mean cmon in this day and age with the identity theft and illegal problem? Who is the moron who thought this up? The more I think about it the more I think they should be taken to court.

    As far as going around the neighborhood asking questions about your kids. She should have called the cops on them if for nothing else than to have them checked out. I don’t care who they say they represent. We know that the question is not if it will be abused but how much it will be abused, mishandled, whatnot.

  3. Mullah Lodabullah Says:

    “census worker was going door to door on our street, asking people for information about our children”

    East Germany?

  4. teach5 Says:

    28 pages, huh? Americans don’t have the attention span for such a questionnaire. Think of the fun we could have generating our own questions!Toilet paper over or under? Wash in hot water or cold? Temptations of Four Tops? Your response is required by law.

  5. ER Says:

    bad news re: regarding doeboy’s saying the response doesn’t have to be reasonable, just a response,I don’t remember the exact wording (I got one of those suckers too), but the threat of penalty was not just for failure to complete but for giving false or misleading answers too. Some of the questions I remember were about route to work, # absences, # people in vehicle,…oh, & this is a big one: that this survey isn’t it, either, they may also combine this data with data from other records of other agencies & databases ! To me it seems incredibly unconstitutional.

    • PB-in-AL Says:

      @ER – you’re probably right that they’ll try to strong-arm folks into answering. However, I would have to agree with Senor Doeboy, they only have the Constitutional mandate to count us. The other other stuff is fluff. Sure, it’ll take a lot of money, time and hassle to fight it if they decide to press the issue. But I think it’d be worth it.

      As my response to SD’s comment was “none of your damn business”, duely and faithfully attested under oath, I’d also be justified, I think, telling a person at my door to “bugger off” (or some such nicety).

  6. TeaJay Says:

    I have bene researching the American Community Survey Census project. There are so many stories like this one! I browsed on the website to see if I could find a reference to the Constitutionality of this detailed questioning (more than just counting). Finally I got the nerve to ask a question via electronic form. A census worker replied, and we went back and forth a few times… she threw out a couple court rulings… ultimately she conceded she could not answer my question, and could NOT point to specific Constitutional authorization to conduct surveys on the American people.

  7. Kathleen Mullarkey Says:

    I got hit with this last year, 2009. I kept tearing it up because the questions were invasive. They badgered me with phone calls. I finally answered and responded minimally. Therefore, I will not be giving any info again this year for the 2010 Census. They can get everything from last year’s invasion of my household. If they don’t like that, my next question is what did you do with all of that information? Lose it? Misplace it? I cannot trust any government organization to safekeep my personal information. They’ve blown it quite a few times with loss of highly personal database info. This happened in the VA not long ago. A mess!

  8. Keri Says:

    I received the American Community Survey, or rather, the Nazi Communist Interrogation form today. There is no way I will be filling out this form. If we are to be patriots of our country, we must be willing to stand up to this type of governmental bullying. It is already bad enough that Obama is trying to socialize our great country. We cannot relinquish our freedoms bit by bit until we have nothing left. It is so reminiscent of Nazi Germany. To be a patriot means to take a stand for your country against your government if you must! The instructions on the survey said it was not singling a person out, it was mailed to “the residence”. Well, I say let the house fill the form out if that is whom it was mailed to. Unbelievable. God bless you all and please let’s stand together.

    • Ronin Says:

      Failure to send it back gets an automatic second one mailed out. If the thought police do not get a response with that one you will start getting phone calls and visits from little guvment zombies. I will stop short of giving you advice because those idiots may actually attempt to fine someone over noncompliance. They will probably lose in court (except in the ninth district) but it would still be a hassle.

      This is what I would do: wait for the personal visits and at that point, have them produce ID and answer the same questions on the form after first informing the nazi that I need the information for my use. You do not have to disclose why you want the data, fair is fair. If they refuse to supply the information then I would hand them back their form and call a lawyer.

      • Keri Says:

        That is exactly what I would like to do. If someone comes knocking on my door asking questions like that, I will get a pad of paper and a pen, and ask them their full name, their SS#, date of birth, home address, etc. Then, when they refuse to answer and try to bully their way into my house, I will tell them to go get their search warrant or arrest warrant. It has to stop somewhere. Amazing.

        • CavMom Says:

          There is absolutely no way I am going to tell anyone what time of day the last person in my house leaves for work.

          And as for them wanting to know if I have problems showering???????

          AND whether or not I get confused easily??? OK, this one makes me laugh. But the wrong answer could give them grounds to have my CHL revoked.

  9. Leatherneck Says:

    I answered the race question as other. Then, I wrote in American.

    Everything else on the form did not seem over the top to me. There was no strange questions.


    • changedforever Says:

      I did too, i.e., wrote in American after race.

      As for the rest, all I received was the standard census form and nothing else.

    • Lynn Says:

      Then you did NOT receive the ACS. It is invasive, intrusive and absolutely ridiculous. I, certainly, would not fill it out.

  10. Don Says:

    I have now received my second copy of the ACS with a reminder letter. I have no intentions of completing it. As for the flush toilet question … it worked on the first copy of the ACS … I have no doubt it will work for the second.

  11. UP4Liberty Says:

    This is all part of an ongoing series of tests to see how much the feds can get away with.

    It is also a way that the feds can determine the level of weakness in most American’s resistance to these types of completely Unconstitutional actions they may or will take in the future.

    The TSA is part of the strategy, too…

  12. Austin Heffernan Says:

    The fact that the American Community Survey and its associated fines for non-compliance exists speaks volumes about how our Government is no longer a servant to its citizens. The bureaucrats have appointed themselves as our masters. If you don’t think this profiling is dangerous, talk to an Asian-American whose family was located using Census Department data and was rounded up and imprisoned during WWII. Urge your Congressman to support H.R. 931, which will allow Americans to choose whether or not they want to supply the Government with this extremely detailed, personal information.

    “Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.” ~Mark Twain

  13. candi Says:

    I received my second survey yesterday.I have no intention of filling this out.So guess I’ll set back and see what happens.

  14. Sleeping Giant Says:

    The collection of “statistics” is a useful function to the American People. The US Census Bureau crossed the line from “statistic gathering” to “intelligence gathering” when it began collecting “Personally Identifiable Information (PII)”. Power to “interrogate” law abiding citizens can only be granted by a Constitutional Amendment and the vote of the people. Unless the US Supreme court reviews and upholds those statutes, no one should provide any type of PII to anyone. The Supreme Court should rule that the American Community Survey is illegal and instruct the Commerce Dept to eliminate all PII from its databases. Just as mail-in ballots avoid PII, the methods for “statistics gathering” should be no less stringent.

    I have combined an adaptation of Hayden’s excellent refusal cover letter, excerpts from citizen’s testimonials regarding harassment, a copy of the ACS I found online and mailed it to the Editorial Directors of the nation’s 25 largest news agencies. I have also purchased 50 bumper stickers that say: ‘Google “REFUSAL American Community Survey” as a down payment on my children’s liberty. Please do the same.

    Homeland security and emigration control are very important issues; however, the people working them cannot be allowed to trample upon our Constitution. They must propose a solution and put it to the people directly. We all know that it was just this type of information gathering that allowed the German government to carry out it’s atrocities in 1935. Although it’s hard to imagine that happening here, there are other abuses that are easy to imagine such as phone, home, and work place harassment.

  15. JP Says:

    Here is the list of the Waste of Taxpayers $$$ Docs I’ve received:

    Pre-survey letter
    ACS #1
    Reminder postcard
    Larger green reminder postcard
    Calls have started and I’m anticipating reps coming to my residence soon. The only way I can think they got my number is from FB and thats a false number anyway. How did they get it?

    Anyway, when they show up, I will be confronting them with my pistol on my side, my pocket constitution (to remind the representative of the Censuses only allowed duties) a video camera in their face and a notebook to ask every questions they ask me…

    To anyone that has thought about not filling it in and doing the same. Good luck and god speed!

  16. Joseph Copsey Says:

    You’re entitled to your opinions. And I would suggest you do more research to understand why the questions are asked and the laws behind them. But we all know you’re not going to that. So then I would plead you not threaten or assault a government representative on official duty. To do so would be a federal crime to be tried in federal court.

  17. Still in the Game Says:

    I’m an 80 year old single female who has so fare received Items 1, 2, and 3. 1. First notice; 2. Questionnaire; 3. Reminder poscard. I have absolutely NO intention of filling out their form! I will ignore everything as long as I can by not responding, not answering the phone if I don’t recognize caller ID. I never answer the door for strangers anyhow! Will post a “Beware of Dog” sign at the front of my house, put a lock on my back gate, and if they block my driveway, I will drive my locked car out of my garage and bypass them by driving over the curb. If personal visits or harrassment get too bad, I will contact an attorney and the media! I’m delighted to find that some Americans still have the backbone to fight back!

  18. Pat Coyle Says:

    We’ve received the second survey and have no intention of filling it out. Our dear President Obama doesn’t see fit to make public any of his personal information and was never “vetted”. We don’t really know where he was born, what his grades were in college, what subject he used for his thesis, etc. He openly boasts of smoking pot and using cocaine, etc. How did he get a social security card with a number from a state that he never lived in? When we find out Mr. Obama’s information, then, MAYBE, I’ll let them know if my toilet flushes.

  19. Strauss Says:

    Your blog is outstanding; do not a lot of things people are talking about intelligence. I am glad I have this chance in my relating some of the search.

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