Legal Question in Constitutional Law in Florida

Are you required by law to answer any questions other than the number of occupants in your household on the 2010 census

Asked on 3/16/10, 4:22 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Alan Wagner Wagner McLaughlin, P.A.

Yu are not required to answer anything; however, it is silly not and nothing to be feared by doing so.

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Answered on 3/21/10, 5:37 pm
Edmund Burke Edmund B Burke, Attorney at Law

Title 13 U.S. Code Sec. 221, provides as follows (edited for readability):

Sec. 221. Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen...refuses or willfully neglects... to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to [his] family...shall be fined not more than $100.

(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500.

Cases have been litigated which question the authority of Congress to require more information than that which is specified (or fairly implied) by the terms of the Constitution. The Courts have upheld the power of Congress to compel additional information. As you see from the US Code above, there are penalities both for a "refusal" to answer as well as for willfully giving false answers.

The Constitution gave Congress the power to control the census and it has passed laws to do so.

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Answered on 4/12/10, 10:11 am

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