Some interesting developments in the We the People Federal case. Here is a summary:
On July 19, 2004, this case was initiated in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. An Amended Complaint was filed in early September.
On September 30, 2004, as we had previously reported, the government filed a Motion to Dismiss our complaint.
On November 12, 2004, Mark Lane and Bob Schulz filed a Memorandum in Opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss.
On November 12, 2004, Mark Lane and Bob Schulz filed a Motion to Amend our complaint, in order to add hundreds of named plaintiffs, to narrow the issues and to cure a minor issue in our complaint. The government has opposed our Motion to Amend the complaint and we have replied to the government’s opposition. We are also awaiting the court’s decision on our Motion to Amend.
According to the rules of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the government had until November 17, 2004 to reply to our Memorandum in Opposition to the government’s Motion to Dismiss. However, DOJ filed a Motion for more time, due in part, to “the gravity of the relief sought.”
We thought this to be an odd reason because the only relief we are seeking is a declaration of our Rights under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment, and an end to unconstitutional retaliation against those who Petition for Redress. However, the court granted the request. DOJ’s reply is due today, December 22, 2004.
The government decided to retaliate against the leaders of the Petition process, including Bob Schulz in his personal capacity and as Chairman of the WTP organization. The government served Schulz with a Summons, demanding that Schulz turn over certain personal records to the IRS.
Schulz immediately sued the IRS in the US District court. In his complaint, Schulz asked the Court to quash the IRS Summons on the grounds that the IRS did not have a legitimate purpose, that the IRS was infringing on his First Amendment Right to Petition and his Right to associate with others of like mind, and that the Summons was nothing more than harassment and impermissible retaliation.
The IRS, as defendant, did not respond to the lawsuit. They never made an appearance in District Court! Eventually, Schulz motioned the District Court for a default judgment. The District Court issued its decision, holding that the court was prevented by law from quashing an IRS Summons.
Schulz immediately appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (see Schulz’s Appellant Brief). The IRS, through its attorney, the U.S. Department of Justice, decided to make an appearance in the court of Appeals. DOJ, through its Senior Counsel, Robert Storch, filed a Respondent’s Brief.
At oral argument, DOJ argued that the District Court lacked jurisdiction and could not quash the Summons served on Schulz because the Summons legally meant nothing. Ironically, in order to scuttle Schulz’s case by asserting lack of jurisdiction, and to avoid a judicial skirmish directly debating the Summons authority of the IRS, DOJ argued before the three appellate justices that the IRS Summons was legally “unenforceable,” therefore Schulz was under no legal obligation to respond to it, denying the court subject matter jurisdiction.
During argument, one of the justices inquired of Storch, “If there is no legal obligation to respond to IRS Summons, then why didn’t the IRS simply print a disclaimer on the Summons itself informing people that they did not have to respond to the Summons?” Storch could not answer the question.
In a highly unusual move, the appellate court ordered DOJ to submit a memorandum to the Court by December 23, 2004, further explaining to the court why DOJ believes people do not have to respond to IRS Summons, why people will suffer no consequences if they ignore such Summons, and why the court is without power to grant Schulz’s request to quash the Summons. In response, Storch, the Senior Counsel in the office of the US Attorney, repeatedly asserted he did not understand this area of the law and would have to engage IRS officials to draft the Memorandum requested by the Court.
My what tangled webs we weave…
Go to the We the People website for more information, copies of all filings, and to help out or join-in.
“Now think real hard. You been bird-dogging this township a while now. They wouldn’t mind a corpse of you. Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, … but if your hand touches metal, … I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, … I will end you.” – Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds”