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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

Liberty Update

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Two More Legal Victories for Second Amendment Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 19 2016
These welcome legal victories intertwine with the ongoing debate over judicial appointments as the presidential campaign accelerates.

This week, two high-profile political events refocused Americans' attention on the judicial branch. 

Also this week, two new legal victories for Second Amendment rights remind us why it matters. 

First, Donald Trump released his much-anticipated list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees, which conservative and libertarian judicial observers greeted with justified enthusiasm.  On the other end of the partisan spectrum, Barack Obama and fellow Democrats renewed their increasingly desperate effort to achieve confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland as the late Justice Antonin Scalia's replacement. 

While all of that was taking place in the political realm, Second Amendment freedoms enjoyed two important new court wins.  Each served to highlight why judicial appointments remain so critical in the ongoing battle against federal, state and local efforts to restrict those freedoms. 

In the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, of all places, judges ruled that the right to keep and bear arms also logically protects the right to sell and purchase those arms. 

At issue was an Alameda County ordinance prohibiting firearms retailers from operating within 500 feet of any residentially zoned district, which effectively constituted a blanket ban throughout applicable city limits.  Although county officials and the dissenting judge claimed that the restriction was "a mundane zoning dispute dressed up as a Second Amendment challenge," the majority eviscerated that illogic: 

If 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms' is to have any force, the people must have a right to acquire the very firearms they are entitled to keep and bear.  Indeed, where a right depends on subsidiary activity, it would make little sense if the right did not extend, at least partly, to such activity as well...  One cannot truly enjoy a constitutionally protected right when the state is permitted to snuff out the means by which he exercises it;  one cannot keep arms when the state prevents him from purchasing them...  Thus, the Second Amendment 'right must also include the right to acquire a firearm.'" 

The majority further rejected the rationalization that the presence of firearms somehow increases the likelihood of violence, writing that, "The County failed to satisfy its burden because it never justified the assertion that gun stores act as magnets for crime.  Indeed, Teixeira took pains to remind the court that 'all employees working at a gun store, and all clients/customers are required to be law-abiding citizens.'" 

Importantly, the majority concluded by addressing a tactic used by so many jurisdictions across the country to effectively eliminate Second Amendment rights under the claim that they can exercise their rights elsewhere: 

According to the dissent, there is no constitutional infirmity so long as firearm sales are permitted somewhere in the County.  We doubt the dissent would afford challenges invoking other fundamental rights to such cursory review.  Would a claim challenging an Alameda County ordinance that targeted bookstores be nothing more than 'a mundane zoning dispute dressed up as a [First] Amendment challenge'?  Surely the residents of Alameda County could acquire their literature at other establishments that, for whatever reason, had not been shuttered by the law. 

In a second legal victory for Second Amendment rights this week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., enjoined a District requirement that citizens show "good reason" in order to obtain a permit to carry a firearm within city limits.  "The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table," wrote Judge Richard Leon.  "The District's understandable, but overzealous, desire to restrict the right to carry in public a firearm for self-defense to the smallest possible number of law-abiding, responsible citizens is exactly the type of policy choice the Justices had in mind" in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision recognizing the Constitution's individual right to keep and bear arms. 

These welcome legal victories intertwine with the ongoing debate over judicial appointments as the presidential campaign accelerates. 

Because Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Heller, his replacement is particularly important to those on both sides of the Second Amendment debate. 

That's something to keep in mind as the November elections approach and American voters must determine which candidates, at all levels of government, are most likely to respect the rights explicitly enumerated in the Second Amendment and elsewhere in the Constitution. 

Notable Quote   
 
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
 
 
— 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?