Friday, July 03, 2009
Swampland at Time.com
The constitution doesn't require much participation from the American people. It protects their rights -- free speech, to bear arms, a fair trial, etc – but it doesn't even make voting mandatory. The one action it does require is for citizens to stand up and get counted, which is why every 10 years the census bureau floods the postal system with millions of forms and deploys an army of counters.
However seemingly straight forward, the census has always been a political animal. Congressional districts live and die off of its results and control of the counting is a much guarded power – witness the concern when President Obama named Republican Senator Judd Gregg to head the Commerce Department, home of the Census Bureau. Still, lawmakers, servants of the constitution, are usually known to uphold its much revered instructions. Not this year.
Two-term Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is refusing to fully fill out her census form in protest that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a housing rights group known as ACORN, has been approved as one of 30,000 partners to help conduct the counting. Conservatives such as Bachmann say the group is overtly partisan and pushes the liberal agenda.
“There's great concern that's being raised because now ACORN has been named as one of the federal partners,” Bachmann told the Washington Times last month. “This is very concerning because the motherload of all data comes from the census.” Bachmann said she would fill out only the number of people in her household, but “we won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that.” She risks a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $5,000 for refusing to answer census questions....(Remainder.)