For over a year, many on the right have led a smear campaign against the Census, potentially undermining the constitutionally mandated decennial count. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) led the charge, making outlandish claims about internment camps and proudly declaring in June that she would not fill her form, in violation of federal law. Meanwhile, right-wing talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh urged listeners to not fully complete their forms, with Beck warning that answering the race question would somehow “increase slavery.” Today, in a post on the conservative blog Red State, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC) called out this “blatant misinformation” and urged all Americans to complete the Census, as it is our “Constitutional duty”:
No, what worries me is blatant misinformation coming from otherwise well-meaning conservatives. They are trying to do the right thing, but instead they are helping big government liberals by discouraging fellow conservatives from filling out their census forms. […]
Anyone who tells you that this year’s census is unconstitutional and that you are not required to fill out the form completely is flat out wrong. They argue that because this year’s census asks for more than a simple count of how many people live in your home, it is unconstitutional and therefore should not be completely filled out. That argument doesn’t stand up to either history or the Constitution’s text.
McHenry mentioned the startling news that some of the most Republican counties in Texas have had some of the lowest Census return rates in the country, implying that conservative fear mongering is to blame. He also noted that the race question has been asked since 1790, so suggesting “that this question or others like it make this year’s census unconstitutional is absurd.” And in a thinly veiled rebuke of Beck, Limbaugh, and Bachmann, McHenry wrote that “calls to only partially fill out census forms…feed a climate of mistrust in the census and need to be refuted.”