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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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Second Amendment: Constitutional Rights Shouldn't Be Subject to "Good Cause" Government Approval Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 18 2015
What other Constitutional right requires a citizen to 'distinguish himself from the mainstream?'

Can government officials require American citizens "to demonstrate and elaborate good cause" and "provide supporting documentation" before exercising, say, our First Amendment right to free speech or religious practice? 

How about our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures? 
Or our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, our Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury or our Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the laws? 

The idea is facially preposterous. 

Yet that "good cause" showing is precisely what California government officials demand before they'll allow law-abiding citizens to fully exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  San Diego County, currently challenged before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, requires all concealed-carry applicants to "provide supporting documentation" in order "to demonstrate and elaborate good cause."  Making that showing requires "documentation, such as restraining orders, letters from law enforcement agencies or the district attorney familiar with the case" to establish "circumstances that distinguish him from the mainstream." 

What other Constitutional right requires a citizen to "distinguish himself from the mainstream?" 

Believe it or not, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overturned that "good cause" requirement as unconstitutional in 2014.  First, the court affirmed that the right to "bear" arms is just as secure as the right to merely "keep" arms in one's home: 

"The Second Amendment secures the right not only to 'keep' arms but also to 'bear' them - the verb whose original meaning is key in this case.  Saving us the trouble of pulling the eighteenth-century dictionary ourselves, the Court already has supplied the word's plain meaning:  'At the time of the founding, as now, to "bear" meant to "carry."'  Yet, not 'carry' in the ordinary sense of 'convey[ing] or transport[ing]' an object, as one might carry groceries to the check-out counter or garments to the laundromat, but 'carry for a particular purpose - confrontation.'  The 'natural meaning of "bear arms,"' according to the Heller majority, was best articulated by Justice Ginsburg in her dissenting opinion in Muscarello v. United States:  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."'" 

And because San Diego County completely prohibited open-carry, concealed-carry remained the only way in which subject citizens could exercise their Second Amendment right to "bear" arms.  "California," the Court observed, "through its legislative scheme, has taken a different course than most nineteenth-century state legislatures, expressing a preference for concealed rather than open carry."  For that reason, the Court held, the exacting "good cause" requirement violated the Second Amendment. 

True to its far-left form, the full Ninth Circuit subsequently chose to review that ruling en banc.  This week, oral argument occurred  and the judges' tone suggested an inclination to uphold the law's restrictions, along with those of a similar Yolo County law.  The Ninth Circuit, however, remains the most oft-reversed circuit by the Supreme Court, and such a reversal could trigger continuation of that pattern. 

Doing so would vindicate the core concept in the seminal Heller decision of 2008.  There, the Supreme Court finally affirmed the Second Amendment's fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms, but it left unresolved the reach of that protection beyond one's home.  As noted above, however, the Second Amendment protects the right to "bear" arms as much as it protects the right to "keep" arms. 

More fundamentally, our Constitution is not one whose rights remain subject to whether government officials believe good reason exists to for citizens to exercise them.  As the earlier three-judge panel ruled, that remains true for the Second Amendment just as much as other rights: 

"Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem.  That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.  Nor may we relegate the bearing of arms to a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees that we have held to be incorporated into the Due Process Clause." 

Well said. 

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?