Census worker taken to court for trespassing
We fought a Civil War. The Federal Government won. The Census worker was an Agent of the government present to carry out a lawful government function that is authorized under the Constitution. The local police officer should be arrested for Obstruction of a Government Process. The quality of the Census worker and the poor quality of the ID they were issued is not the subject here. The person contacted had a duty to identify themselves and cooperate. If they had any question then they could have accepted the information from the Census worker with the identification codes for the property being inspected and the phone number for the office. Failure to identify yourself to an Agent lawfully present should be grounds for someone to be charged with suspicion of trespass or burglary themselves. Since the person who refused to identify himself or accept the offered forms could themselves have been some armed intruder on the property.
The Census has been very badly managed. Workers are under extreme pressure to turn in large numbers of completed forms. Supervisors do not routinely call contacted Respondants to verify information and ascertain the quality of the Enumerator's service. At the same time there is no incentive for the public to cooperate, except for advertisements appealing to their greed for more government services. This will result in widespread fraud as Enumerators give up on attempting to pry accurate information from the public and resort to using Google™ or simply inventing answers.
The same juvenile people offering fist bumps for refusing to cooperate with the Census are the ones who will complain about how a shoddy Census was used to justify a reapportionment that keeps the friends of Acorn in power.
For over 200 years the government has conducted the Census. This is not a Liberal versus Conservative issue. To be Conservative means to participate in making the law, ensuring that it is honestly and impartially administered and obey it as it is an expression of the people's properly elected representatives. If the law is unjust then change it. In the case of the Census the excessive "long form" questions are no longer included.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations failed to properly organize the Census. The Bush Commerce Department should have done a much better job preparing the effort, educating the public, and ensuring that locations were accurately listed and properly surveyed. The Obama administration failed completely at the beginning by attempting to sucker punch Senator Graham into taking a Cabinet position, so that they would get their 60th vote, while moving the Census into the White House. That did not happen but precious time was lost and more important they tainted the public perception of the Enumeration that followed.
Anyone who uses the anonymity of the internet to boast of or advocate illegal activity, such as submitting a false official report, deserves to be tracked down and tossed into prison. The fact is that the law said that the forms should have been returned by April 1st. No one gets in trouble for that violation but the point is that when the Enumerator knocks on your door they know that you are already in violation for non-compliance with the US Code. They cannot leave forms with you to possibly be filled out sometime over the next few months if you so choose. Also they know that even if you sincerely believe that you complied it is possible that the records may show you as not having done so for legitimate reasons. For example if 10 years ago it was reported that an upstairs unit was separately rented at your address then they may need to verify who lives there and in how many residences. The Census workers are all sworn to secrecy and that means that they cannot tell you what they may have heard about your location. In fact the field worker will not be told what the office has, for the same proper reason of confidentiality. However failure to comply could result in the Census going to neighbors to find out what they can.
(Reply to "Dooney")
You are wrong. Full Stop. This is another internet myth getting tossed around in an echo chamber. It is on the order of the people who assert, and this is where people are arrogant, that they "know" that the Income Tax is illegal or those who think that no one has to report to Jury Duty or carry an ID at the airport. All of these, along with the fantasy that you only have to yell how many people you want them to count through the door, is simply tin foil hat nonsense. The law is the US Code passed by the United States Congress. There are no optional questions on the Census. Every person has a duty to comply with the Census and to provide truthful answers to the questions the Enumerator asks in the performance of their duty. If you are reasonably uncertain as to the identity of the person asking the questions then you can ask for the Notice of Visit with the tracking information for your case and a phone number for the office. Failure to give the mandated information or giving false information is an offense.
If you think the Census asks questions beyond its authority bring a case before a US Magistrate and good luck with it.
(Reply to "clickhiker" who agreed with me)
I am Conservative. Those who encourage contempt for the law and hope for a world of small authoritarian communities at war with the outside are not only very ill but are also among a type of socialists. They think that their ego can trump over the Constitution and their tiny band can defy the lawful government. It is a nostalgia for seccessionism I suspect. These attitudes are more at home in the corners of the Democratic Party than among Republicans. They do not seek to learn the law or improve it, they only complain that under the current gang they lack power. The Obama crowd have done everything to corrupt the process, that does not excuse unlawful behavior by others. The bottom line is that in this case the local law enforcement officer behaved unprofessionally.
There is no general right to Privacy that entitles people to tell the government to go away beyond what is given in the Constitution. The only grounds for refusing to provide the information could be under either the IVth or Vth Amendments. No special warrant is needed to gather information for the Census because it is specifically authorized under the Constitution. Complying with the Census is an obligation for every person on United States territory and subject to the jurisdiction thereof. That last means that foreign diplomats should be exempt but it would not shock me if they voluntarily complied. Just as there is no need for Customs to obtain a warrant before searching you at the border there is no need for the Census to obtain a warrant before asking you the questions approved by Congress. If anyone wants to make a case that the name, age, sex, race questions exceed that which should be asked without a warrant then go ahead and make the argument in a Court of Law. You may win although I doubt it. Right now they just ask the questions and accept your answers. Perhaps if challenged the Congress will then demand fingerprints from everyone so be careful what you ask for. In America we do very little to track people. In many parts of this country you can vote without producing any ID.
There is no argument to be made against the Census under the Vth Amendment because all Census workers are sworn to secrecy and no information will be shared with any Law Enforcement Agency so there is zero risk of self incrimination. In fact if you are a criminal with illegal aliens from Mexico in one room and Osama and his friends in another room, with some working girls living in a side room and a meth lab in the back for good measure, the smartest thing you can do is tell the Census. If there is a wiretap on your house they would almost certainly have to suppress the evidence.
The Census worker cannot arrest you but if you did threaten them so that they had to send out US Marshals to accompany an Enumerator for his own safety then that Law Enforcement Officer would not be sworn to secrecy regarding your personal information and they could arrest you if they discovered something illegal. Now this never happens but my point is that there is no reason to abuse the Agent and few people would act so foolishly towards a real LEO. The question of whether they have a right to be on the property is also misstated by many. They have a right to enter the property when under official business. An unlocked gate means nothing and if there is a bell or intercom and the Census worker identifies themselves then there is a duty to cooperate. If a locked gate is used to deny access because there is no accompanying bell that is simply a foolish way to live. There may be laws regarding the need to provide access to emergency services so walling yourself off and preventing anyone from communicating to request admittance could be not only unwise but illegal. The bottom line is that refusal to cooperate or at the very least refusal to arrange some other contact such as by phone will only result in further attention.
(Reply to ACRScout)
That is the most fairly worded rebuttal I have seen today and I thank you for it.
Incompetence and disorganization or abuse make it much harder for the honest worker. This debate has put me in an awkward position because I am being accused of being some kind of Obamist for defending a legitimate government act that is unfortunately being badly managed. Part of the trouble may arise from the need to verify some addresses, due to possible historical uses or errors in prior years. Due to confidentiality it is impossible to determine that in each case. A much better management system is needed. The obstructions raised by the ideological deniers of even this most basic government function, one that I believe that conservatives should support, act like sand and increase inefficiency to the ultimate benefit of those like Acorn who do want to substitute wholesale fraud for the Census. That is why I suspect that some of the most vociferous critics here are really "moby" trolls sent to advocate disruption.