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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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Liberal 9th Circuit: Second Amendment Rights not Limited to One’s Home Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, February 20 2014
Traditionally the most leftist and most reversed circuit, it recently issued a Second Amendment decision that will please any libertarian, conservative or even liberal who maintains some residual respect for the rule of law and constitutional rights.

One conspicuous casualty of the Obama Administration’s ongoing boondoggle of lawlessness and ideological fiat is something that was once a reliable conservative grievance. 

Namely, the increasingly rare complaint of “judicial activism” – properly defined not as overturning democratically enacted statutes that happen to be flawed, but rather when judges dissatisfied with their role of interpreting laws as opposed to making laws impose their policy desires absent constitutional or statutory basis. 

Now in the sixth year of Obama’s tenure, we’ve witnessed a remarkable reversal in that regard.  Today, the judicial branch seems a veritable redoubt of constitutional fidelity and restraint compared to the executive branch’s extralegal shenanigans.  Indeed, courts increasingly represent the final bulwark against the Obama Administration’s seemingly endless litany of abuses. 

Take the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  (Please.) 

Traditionally the most leftist and most reversed circuit, it recently issued a Second Amendment decision that will please any libertarian, conservative or even liberal who maintains some residual respect for the rule of law and constitutional rights. 

Not only did the Court overturn San Diego’s prohibition on the right to bear arms, it rejected a fallback claim of anti-Second Amendment activists stemming from the famous 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller affirming the individual right to keep and bear arms. 

At issue in this case was San Diego’s effective prohibition on possession of handguns, concealed or open, loaded or unloaded, outside of one’s home.  The law went so far as to state that, “one’s personal safety alone is not considered ‘good cause’” for obtaining an exception to the ban, regardless of the severity of the threat. 

Appropriately, the 9th Circuit began its analysis with the Heller decision, as well as the subsequent 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago decision affirming that the right to keep and bear arms applies to state laws, not just federal jurisdictions.  Those decisions, however, focused upon the right as exercised within the confines of one’s home, not in public.  Both Heller and McDonald acknowledged that the Second Amendment is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” 

Rather, both noted that such things as reasonable restrictions against carrying concealed firearms might withstand constitutional scrutiny.  Since Heller, anti-Second Amendment activists have employed that caveat to suggest that any concealed carry restriction, no matter how draconian, should be sustained. 

Fortunately, the 9th Circuit rejected that argument. 

First, the Court provided extensive legal and historical context to affirm that the right to “bear arms” includes the right to carry them outside the confines of one’s home.  In fact, the Court even quoted liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented in Heller, that to “bear arms” meant to “wear, bear, or carry … upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose … of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.” 

Second, and interrelated with the first, the Court held that the right of self-defense is a core component of the right to keep and bear arms (along with such other justifications as resistance against government tyranny, hunting, etc.).  Obviously, one’s right to self-defense logically extends beyond the confines of one’s own home, and in fact becomes in some ways more acute in public. 

Third, the Court noted that, “California law has no permitting provision for open carry,” meaning that the only remaining manner for citizens to bear arms outside the home would be concealed.  The San Diego law in question, however, was so restrictive as to effectively eliminate that possibility even for law-abiding citizens with spotless criminal records: 

“In California, the only way that the typical responsible, law-abiding citizen can carry a weapon in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense is with a concealed-carry permit.  And in San Diego County, that option has been taken off the table.  The San Diego County policy specifies that concern for ‘one’s personal safety alone’ does not satisfy the ‘good cause’ requirement for issuance of a permit.  Instead, an applicant must demonstrate that he suffers a unique harm:  he must show ‘a set of circumstances that distinguish [him] from the mainstream and cause him to be placed in harm’s way.’  Given this requirement, the ‘typical’ responsible, law-abiding citizen in San Diego County cannot bear arms in public for self-defense; a typical citizen fearing for his ‘personal safety’ – by definition – cannot ‘distinguish himself from the mainstream.’” 

The Court went so far as to draw an excellent First Amendment analogy that libertarians and conservatives will relish: 

“To reason by analogy, it is as though San Diego County banned all political speech, but exempted from this restriction particular people (like current or former political figures), particular places (like private property), and particular situations (like the week before an election).  Although these exceptions might preserve small pockets of freedom, they would do little to prevent destruction of the right to free speech as a whole.  As the Court has said, ‘The Second Amendment is no different.’” 

Accordingly, the San Diego law was so restrictive as to amount to a complete ban impermissible in light of Heller and McDonald

“California’s favoring concealed carry over open carry,” the Court concluded, “does not offend the Constitution, so long as it allows one of the two.  For these reasons, Heller’s favorable mention of concealed-carry restrictions is not the silver bullet the County had hoped it was, at least not in this case.” 

So while Obama’s executive branch continues to careen out of control, the judicial branch remains on the job, at least in this case. 

Notable Quote   
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— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?