Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Census and the Constitution, 2-17-10

The Census Bureau estimates that the life cycle cost of the 2010 Census will be from $13.7 billion to $14.5 billion, making it the costliest census in the nation's history. Suppose you suggest to a congressman that given our budget crisis, we could save some money by dispensing with the 2010 census. I guarantee you that he'll say something along the lines that the Constitution mandates a decennial counting of the American people and he would be absolutely right. Article I, Section 2 of our constitution reads: "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."

What purpose did the Constitution's framers have in mind ordering an enumeration or count of the American people every 10 years? The purpose of the headcount is to apportion the number of seats in the House of Representatives and derived from that, along with two senators from each state, the number of electors to the Electoral College.

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