Wednesday, May 8, 2019


From a very nice article at Vox, with comments from a number of law professors about Donald Trump's refusal to honor a legal request for his tax returns:

"The provision Rep. Neal is using is a specific statutory exception from that disclosure prohibition. That exception says that the secretary of the Treasury (or his delegate) “shall furnish” the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee with any tax return or return information requested in writing."

"Shall."  It all comes down to the meaning of this word.

"A reading of the plain language of the tax code indicates that Congress does in fact have the legal authority to request and obtain tax information from any filer, including the president... The statute says the IRS “shall furnish” tax returns to the committee chair upon request and that’s the end of it...

This is not an issue on which there is any possibility of reasonable disagreement. Any well-informed person who disagrees either that the Ways and Means Committee has an obligation to demand Trump’s tax returns as part of fulfilling its oversight duties or that Trump is legally obliged to turn them over is either a partisan hack or contemptuous of the rule of law."

The word "shall" has a very significant meaning in American law.  It means that there is no choice; that the order must be complied with.  Now, the corrupt Trump justice department is claiming that this is not what the word means at all.

Well, here is a suggestion.  In all fairness, I must reveal that this idea came from my son, Max, but it is a great idea.  If this is the new meaning of the word, I think it is time that Democrats take the opportunity to reconsider the phrase "shall not be abridged."

That should be an interesting conversation.


v6math said...

I'm guessing Max is probably around ten years old, as his argument sounds appropriate for one that age. The word 'shall' is not at issue, nor has it ever been. As Max's father, I'm sure you have explained this to him already. The issue, as any rational person understands, is what the founding fathers meant by 'militia', and whether their definition still applies today.

Close to 35,000 people are killed by guns in the U.S. every year. trying to be cute is probably not the best approach.

Green Eagle said...

Nor is anything else as long as the corrupt Republican party has any say in things. I'd like to hear what you have to say about the word "militia," if you think you know so much.