Constitution Says a Census Count, Not an Interrogation
Your editorial "The GOP's Census Takers" (May 12) rightly celebrates the importance of statistical information to improving decision-making in both government and the private sector, from investment to hiring to basic research.
The American Community Survey may serve a "useful government purpose," as the Journal argues, by providing valuable data "about everything from demographics to income to commuting times." But the Constitution authorizes a census only to apportion congressional representatives. There might be some other justification for government to ask additional questions, but these certainly shouldn't be mandatory. A separate Republican budget amendment passed very recently, struck a better balance: not defunding the ACS, but essentially making it voluntary.
Census's similarly extensive questions—not just aggregated results.
Finally, many of the ACS questions are already asked in nearly identical form by other government agencies, such as the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey. Why should taxpayers pay for the same data, however useful, to be collected by separate agencies?