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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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Supreme Court Botches 2nd Amendment Opportunity, But Congress Poised to Act Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 29 2017
Ponder that for a moment. Imagine authorities demanding that citizens show a particularized need differentiating themselves from ordinary citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights, Fifth Amendment rights or any other rights explicitly protected by the text of the Constitution.

This week, the Supreme Court blew a critical opportunity to interrupt the ongoing assault by states like California against Second Amendment rights. 

Scratch that.  Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito, all of whom joined the landmark D.C. v. Heller majority affirming the individual right to keep and bear arms, blew the opportunity.  Justices Thomas and Gorsuch would've heard the case. 

The opportunity in question was Peruta v. California, a prototypically defective Ninth Circuit decision condoning a California law that not only infringes upon the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but nearly eliminates it. 

Under California law, citizens cannot openly carry handguns outside of their homes, whether loaded or unloaded.  Accordingly, concealed carry is the only alternative means by which someone can possess a handgun outside the home.  Unfortunately, California law only allows concealed carry upon demonstrating "good cause" to the satisfaction of county authorities empowered to grant permits. 

In Peruta, the San Diego County Sheriff imposed an extremely restrictive interpretation of "good cause," demanding that applicants show a "particularized need for self-defense that differentiates the applicant from the ordinary citizen." 

Ponder that for a moment.  Imagine authorities demanding that citizens show a particularized need differentiating themselves from ordinary citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights, Fifth Amendment rights or any other rights explicitly protected by the text of the Constitution. 

A more rational approach would require the government to demonstrate a particularized "good cause" for denying a citizen's exercise of a constitutional right. 

That's precisely the logic the initial three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit applied in declaring the restriction unconstitutional: 

To reason by analogy, it is as though San Diego County banned all political speech, but exempted from this restriction 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.'" 

Upon rehearing by an 11-judge en banc panel, however, the Ninth Circuit reversed under the defective logic that, "there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public." 

But Peruta wasn't arguing that such a right exists.  Rather, he rightly asserted that prohibiting citizens from carrying a firearm either openly or concealed amounts to a complete abrogation of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. 

Consequently, Peruta was appropriate for Supreme Court review due to a sharp division among the lower courts on the issue of whether the Second Amendment allows ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense in some manner, including concealed carry where open carry is forbidden by state law. 

But for whatever reason, Justices Kennedy, Roberts and Alito declined to grant review this week.  That refusal triggered a stinging dissent from Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Gorsuch: 

For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the Framers made a clear choice:  They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense.  I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it. 

California hardly stands alone in its effort to suffocate Americans' Second Amendment rights in defiance of constitutional text and recent Supreme Court precedent. 

But even where the Supreme Court refuses for whatever reason to intervene, recourse remains available via Congress and the executive branch, as well as at the state and local levels. 

In fact, two bills currently before Congress would proactively advance Americans' Second Amendment protections. 

In January, Congressman Richard Hudson (R - North Carolina) introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which amends federal law to allow citizens possessing concealed carry permits in their home states to carry concealed firearms in other states that allow individuals to carry concealed firearms.  Given the increasing number of states making such allowances over the past three decades, that now covers most of the U.S. 

A separate bill introduced earlier this month by Congressman Thomas Massie (R - Kentucky) would allow Americans with concealed carry permits to carry firearms into Washington, D.C.  In light of that city's efforts to abrogate Second Amendment rights in the city following the Heller decision, Representative Massie's bill is a welcome and necessary one. 

Similar efforts to protect Americans' Second Amendment freedoms continue across all fifty states, and at the legislative, executive and judicial levels. 

Americans who treasure individual freedom should remain grateful for the Supreme Court's decisions confirming the individual right to keep and bear arms over the past decade. 

As demonstrated this week in Peruta, however, we must remain ready to act through elected officials to protect that right when the Court fails to do so. 

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?