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The U.S. Constitution — Article I, Section 2, clause 3, as modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment — requires a population census every 10 years for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. However, in the wake of US Census Bureau Director John Thompson’s abrupt resignation in May — which garnered a rash of editorials and news articles decrying his resignation at this critical time! — and the Trump administration and GOP-led Congress failing to fully fund the 2020 effort, the 2020 census could be “heading for a train wreck” as Terri Ann Lowenthal, the former co-director of the Census Project, put it so succinctly.
Accordingly, the Government Accountability Office has added the 2020 US census to its high risk list. Issues which raised the threat level for GAO include cancelled field tests for 2017, critical IT uncertainties, information security risks, and “unreliable” cost estimates which do not “conform to best practices.”
Strap in folks, we’re in for a bumpy couple of years for the census. If you have a Senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee or Representative on the House Appropriations Committee, please contact them early and often and ask — nay plead! — that they fully fund the US Census Bureau in order to complete the constitutionally mandated decennial census.
For more background on the US census, see this CRS Report “The Decennial Census: Issues for 2020.”
Every 2 years at the start of a new Congress, GAO calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. The 2017 update identified 3 new High Risk areas and removed 1 area. The update is available below.
In my department, we’re preparing for Constitution Day on Wednesday–printing stickers and buttons, boxing up pocket Constitutions, creating activity booklets, updating our website. Last year, we handed out hundreds of pocket Constitutions in a matter of hours at the Political Science department, and this year we’ve already begun receiving requests for them. This year, we’re also participating in a community event at the local Barnes and Noble, which is designed to draw grade-school kids and their parents. We’ve even got a giant replica print of the Constitution (with extra blank but “antique-looking” pages) for the kids to sign.
Here are some of the many resources available online:
- Search for great resources from the Constitution Center!
- Peggy Garvin recently posted a great summary of the purpose and origin of Constitution Day on LLRX.com.
- If you’re looking for last-minute display ideas, here’s a great webpage at the Minnesota State University of Mankato (recommended to me by Shari Laster, Gov Docs librarian at the University of Akron—thanks, Shari!).
- Also, here are some sources for pocket constitutions and related government publications (great giveaways!).
- And we printed our replica based on the gorgeous images on NARA’s Charters of Freedom website.
- See more primary resources at the Library of Congress website.
- The Constitution Day website also has trivia and great resources for making activity booklets, etc.
I’m interested to hear what your library has planned for the event–please comment below and let us know what you’re doing, where you found resources, etc. Are you planning events at the library, on a campus, in the community?
In a supreme twist of irony, Newt Gingrich, speaking at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner which honors free speech, said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism. So in order to save the Constitution, Gingrich is proposing that it be “reexamined,” a poor euphemism for completely gutting it. Here’s the story about the speech, and here’s a link Keith Olbermann discussing Gingrich’s comments with George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley. George Orwell is truly rolling in his grave!
[Thanks Crooks & Liars!]