Civil Disobedience and the Census

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I recently
heard someone say the time has come for some civil disobedience
and the intrusive nature of the Census makes it the perfect place
to start. I could not agree more. The American people need to draw
a line in the sand and tell the reprobates in the federal government
we will no longer tolerate their usurpations of power.

If the American
people are going make a stand and go toe to toe with the federal
government, then they need a basic understanding of some constitutional
principles because these principles are universal and pertain to
every power exercised by the federal government.


No. 1.
The Constitution established a separation of power between
the States and their federal government. James Madison explained
this principle in Federalist Essay No. 45:

The powers
delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government
are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments
are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally
on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce;
with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part,
be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend
to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern
the lives, liberties, and properties of the people; and the internal
order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

The operations
of the federal government will be most extensive and important
in times of war and danger; those of the State governments in
times of peace and security.

In the New
York State Convention debating ratification of the proposed constitution
in 1788, John Jay, who was one of the authors of the Federalist
Essays and would later become a justice of the United States Supreme
Court, expressed this principle as follows:

What are
the objects of our state legislatures? Innumerable things of small
moment occupy their attention; matters of a private nature, which
require much minute and local information. The objects of the
general government are not of this nature. They comprehend the
interests of the states in relation to each other, and in relation
to foreign nations.

Thomas Jefferson
discussed this principle in various writings throughout his political
career. In 1816 he wrote:

The way
to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one,
but to divide it… Let the national government be entrusted
with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations;
the state governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and
administration of what concerns the state generally…

The best
key for the solution of questions of power between our governments
is the fact that ‘every foreign and federal power is given
to the federal government, and to the states every power purely
domestic. * * * The federal is, in truth, our foreign government…

The federal
government was empowered to deal with foreign affairs and relations
between the States while the States would concern themselves with
domestic affairs.

The powers
of the federal government are commonly known as delegated powers
because when that government was established, the States delegated,
not surrendered, a portion of their sovereign powers to the federal
government. The powers not delegated to the federal government are
known as reserved powers.

No. 2.
The Constitution established a federal government of
limited enumerated powers. Under this system of government, every
power not granted to the federal government and enumerated in the
Constitution is denied. This principle is the foundation of the
Constitution and exists independent of the Tenth Amendment. That
Amendment is merely a secondary level of restraint on the powers
of the federal government.

In Federalist
Essay No. 14, James Madison wrote that adoption of the proposed
constitution would not grant the federal government general legislative
authority throughout the United States:

[I]t is
to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged
with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction
is limited to certain enumerated objects…

Alexander Hamilton
addressed the principle of limited government in Federalist Essay
No. 83:

The plan
of the convention declares that the power of Congress…shall
extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars
evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority,
because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd,
as well as useless, if a general authority was intended.

The federal
government only exists within the sphere of its delegated powers
and is constitutionally powerless to act absent a specific grant
of power. It should be noted that there are no implied powers beyond
the delegated powers. For example. Congress has been granted “the
power to establish post offices.” Therefore, Congress can pass
any law necessary to the establishment and maintenance of post offices.
This would include such incidental powers such as printing stamps,
affixing their value, appropriating money for postal trucks, etc.

Members of
Congress constantly attempt to reverse this principle. I have lost
count of the number of times I have watched one of these clowns
hold up a copy of the Constitution and claim their powers are unlimited
except in those instances were the Constitution places a restriction
on their power. These individuals are either corrupt, incompetent,
or both.

No. 3.
Constitutionally, the federal government cannot use its
delegated powers to encroach on the powers reserved to the States.
In other words, the federal government cannot convert its federal
and foreign powers into domestic powers to do things not entrusted
to that government, i.e., use principle No. 2 to circumvent principle
No. 1.

Provisions for the Census

The provision
for the Census is found in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the
Constitution. It is confined to determining the number of Representatives
[in the House] and imposing direct Taxes among the several States.

and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States
which may be included within this Union, according to their respective
Number… 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.

The reader
will note the power to make laws concerning the Census is restricted
to the “actual enumeration.”

In the case
of direct taxes (a direct tax is a tax on property based on ownership),
this provision requires Congress to apportion the tax among the
individual States based on population. For example. Let’s say
in 1790, two years after the ratification of the Constitution, Congress
prepared a budget and decided to impose a direct tax to raise the
needed revenue. And, based on the Census, Virginia had 30% of the
population of the United States. Under the rule of apportionment,
Virginia would have been responsible for 30% of the tax. The States
collect the tax and turn the money over to the federal government.

Direct taxes
are inherently unfair because one State, with ten percent of the
population, might be one of the richest States while another State,
with the same percentage of the population, might be one of the
poorest. Yet, under the direct tax formula imposed by the Constitution,
both States would be required to pay the same amount. The Founders
feared the use of direct taxes so they created a system to discourage
their use.

Since direct
taxes must be apportioned based on population, an enumeration is
needed to determine the percentage of tax for each State.

The Federal
Government Distorts the Purpose of the Census

On their web-page,
the Census Bureau explains the purpose of the Census as follows:

The U.S.
Constitution (Article I, Section 2) mandates a headcount of everyone
residing in the United States. The population totals determine
each state’s Congressional representation. The numbers also
affect funding in your community and help inform decision makers
about how your community is changing.

The reader
will note that the federal government’s statement of purpose
does not comport with the Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the
Constitution. Since decisions about our communities are not within
the class of powers granted to the federal government (see constitutional
principle No. 1), the reader will not find a reference to it in
the limited powers granted to the federal government (see constitutional
principle No. 2).

the rest of the article

16, 2010

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