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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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Court Blocks D.C. Gun Law, Vindicating Right to Bear Arms Beyond the Home Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, July 27 2017
The Court of Appeals in Wrenn, however, drew a line in holding that, 'The Second Amendment erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach.'

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit often labeled the nation's second-highest court  secured a significant victory for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. 

At issue in Wrenn v. District of Columbia was the following question:  Can the government require citizens to demonstrate "good cause" before exercising a right explicitly protected by the text of the Constitution?  

The question itself should outrage every American.  It's certainly one that would strike the Founding Fathers as alien. 

Imagine, for instance, the government requiring citizens to establish "good cause" before exercising their First Amendment right to free speech or religious practice, their Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, their Eighth Amendment immunity from cruel and unusual punishment, their Twenty-First Amendment freedom to consume alcoholic beverages or their Twenty-Sixth Amendment right to vote after reaching adulthood. 

Protest from the "progressive" left would be deafening. 

Yet that's precisely the sort of limitation regularly imposed upon Second Amendment rights in jurisdictions across the country. 

The Court of Appeals in Wrenn, however, drew a line in holding that, "The Second Amendment erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach." 

In 1976, D.C. imposed a complete ban on handgun possession, which was ultimately overturned in 2008 by the seminal District of Columbia v. Heller decision.  City politicians responded in 2009 by passing a prohibition on carrying firearms outside the home, which was also struck down in Palmer v. District of Columbia in 2014.  Undeterred, officials responded by passing a law narrowly limiting the right to carry a handgun in public to applicants able to demonstrate a "good reason." 

Exacerbating matters, the law in question defined "good reason" to require demonstration of a "special need distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life."  Unsurprisingly, successful applicants were almost nonexistent. 

Lawyers for the District brazenly argued that the Second Amendment doesn't protect bearing arms in public at all, particularly "in densely populated areas like D.C." 

The Court flatly rejected that position, recognizing that the primary purpose of the Second Amendment is self-defense, which logically extends beyond the limited confines of one's home: 

After all, the Amendment's 'core lawful purpose' is self-defense, and the need for that might arise beyond as well as within the home.  Moreover, the Amendment's text protects the right to 'bear' as well as 'keep' arms.  For both reasons, it's more natural to view the Amendment's core as including a law-abiding citizen's right to carry common firearms for self-defense beyond the home. 

The Court then rejected the District's secondary claim that Second Amendment protections are less applicable in urban areas, sardonically stating that, "Its protections today don't give out inside the Beltway." 

The Court then dismantled the city's tertiary claim that even if the Second Amendment protects the right to "bear" arms, including in urban areas, then the District's "good cause" requirement was a reasonable one.  But that restriction, the Court countered, effectively established a complete ban: 

To be sure, the 'good reason' law leaves each D.C. resident some remote chance of one day carrying in self-defense, but that isn't the question.  The Second Amendment doesn't secure a right to have some chance at self-defense.  Again, at a minimum, the Amendment's core must protect carrying given the risks and needs typical of law-abiding citizens.  That is a right that most D.C. residents can never exercise, by the law's very design.  In this way, the District's regulation completely prohibits most residents from exercising the constitutional right to bear arms in the light cast by history and Heller. 

The majority noted that the District law overturned in Heller also made "minor exceptions" for certain sorts of applicants, so that logic couldn't sustain the law. 

The Court concluded, "the individual right to carry common firearms beyond the home for self-defense  even in densely populated areas, even for those lacking special self-defense needs falls within the core of the Second Amendment's protections." 

Because other appellate courts have reached the opposite conclusion, most notably the notoriously leftist Ninth Circuit, this ruling steers the issue toward ultimate resolution by the Supreme Court. 

Which again highlights the importance of judicial appointments in safeguarding our core constitutional freedoms.  Or better yet, electing political leaders who don't jeopardize them in the first place. 

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?