I often see libertarians contrasting (as Walter Block does here, for example) those census questions that the Constitution makes it legally mandatory to answer versus those it doesnt.
But as Ive argued elsewhere:
Although as an anarchist I dont especially care what the Constitution says one way or another, its worth noting that all the Constitution authorizes is the mere conducting of a census; it doesnt authorize mandating compliance, since forcing people to answer is not essential to the conducting of a census. (Private groups conduct surveys all the time without enjoying such power.) So as I read the Constitution (though of course the government doesnt give a damn about how I read it), even if one accepts the Constitutions authority there is still no legally binding obligation to answer any of the questions.
Now it might be objected that the Constitution also grants Congress the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution its powers and the power to compel compliance might thereby be taken to be necessary to the end of enumerating the citizens.
But even if it is necessary, whats authorized is legislation thats necessary and proper; and compelling compliance with the census is not proper.
How do we know it s not proper in the Constitutional sense of that term? By appeal to Spooners 7th, 12th, and 14th rules of legal interpretation.
Why should we accept Spooners rules? I sing, I dance.
[…] Roderick Long has an answer to the authorities on this count: [I]t’s worth noting that all the Constitution […]
[…] Assume, also, that the Constitution not only authorises the federal government to conduct a census but also authorises it to compel people to answer it (though, again we shouldn’t accept that either). […]