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  #51  
Old 05-13-2020, 07:14 AM
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A constitutional amendment to require tax filing disclosures would certainly be the way to deal with it. And, in line with Scalia's dissent I quoted above, who in Congress would dare vote against it?

The question is if we can get candidates elected to the House and Senate to make it a real issue, keep the press focused on it, and actually introduce a well drafted proposed amendment. I think this is one area where the pressure of a public vote would be very strongly in favor of passage.
  #52  
Old 05-13-2020, 07:31 AM
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A constitutional amendment isn’t needed. It isn’t a requirement for office.

Look, the FEC is required to disclose candidate spending and donations. The IRS can be required to disclose tax returns for Federal elected officials and cabinet officers. Done and done.
  #53  
Old 05-13-2020, 09:45 PM
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Trump's tax returns do not exist isolated in the ether. The IRS has them, right? The NYS and NYC equivalents have them, right? If any of those entities saw something sketchy, they have the records already.

If, as I understand it, someone has a suspicion of a crime and issues a warrant or subpoena, the crime and/ or evidence being sought should be specified. If the police want to search my house because they have reasonable suspicion that I am trafficking fentanyl from Wuhan they wouls specify that and not say 'we think there's something funny going on and we want to look for evidence'.

I'm frankly surprised noone has leaked the tax returns already.
  #54  
Old 05-13-2020, 10:03 PM
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A constitutional amendment isn’t needed. It isn’t a requirement for office.

Look, the FEC is required to disclose candidate spending and donations. The IRS can be required to disclose tax returns for Federal elected officials and cabinet officers. Done and done.
1) It isn't a requirement for office, but if you run, we will subpoena them and they will be released. Sounds like a requirement.

Further, you keep going back to how I am a private citizen. I don't see how that matters. If Congress is looking into tax policy in rural areas, then my status as a private citizen should give me a lesser claim to privacy than when they try that against a co-equal branch of government.

2) As Iggy said, this has not been challenged, yet there is a practical difference. We aren't invading anything private. We want to know how much you have spent on the campaign and who has donated larger sums of money to you. These are all public transactions which could be gathered by anyone with a lot of time on their hands. Further, a candidate has a choice to spend no money and accept no donations and he still may be elected.

The IRS is a part of the executive branch of government. To pass a law requiring it to disclose the president's tax returns is no different than requiring the president to disclose his own tax returns.

Both states today in the SCOTUS arguments regarding electors agreed that a requirement that a candidate release his tax returns would violate the Qualifications Clause.
  #55  
Old 05-13-2020, 10:26 PM
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Trump's tax returns do not exist isolated in the ether. The IRS has them, right? The NYS and NYC equivalents have them, right? If any of those entities saw something sketchy, they have the records already.

If, as I understand it, someone has a suspicion of a crime and issues a warrant or subpoena, the crime and/ or evidence being sought should be specified. If the police want to search my house because they have reasonable suspicion that I am trafficking fentanyl from Wuhan they wouls specify that and not say 'we think there's something funny going on and we want to look for evidence'.

I'm frankly surprised noone has leaked the tax returns already.
Trump's own lawyer detailed some of the criminality:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-u...-idUSKCN1QG2X7

If the IRS isn't auditing Trump it is because he has a lackey there who is preventing this from happening.
  #56  
Old 05-14-2020, 11:24 AM
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Trump's own lawyer detailed some of the criminality:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-u...-idUSKCN1QG2X7

If the IRS isn't auditing Trump it is because he has a lackey there who is preventing this from happening.
But if there was a 'smoking gun' anywhere, I am sure someone would find a way to get it into the press. Trump is not universally liked, you may have heard.
  #57  
Old 05-14-2020, 12:32 PM
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The GOP SCOTUS will probably side with Trump, as it usually does. This shouldn't be surprising -- it's a Republican-controlled branch of government right now. This sucks and hopefully it will change, but that's how it is.
Traditionally SC justice appointees nominated by both the left and the right have ended up surprising and disappointing the presidents who nominated them. If nothing else the SC values its autonomy; how is the Republican party "controlling" the court other than having some broadly conservative justices on the bench?
  #58  
Old 05-14-2020, 12:42 PM
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Up until Alito's questioning of Letter I would have agreed that it was 4-4 with the usual partisan split with Roberts to make the deciding vote. After Alito's questioning, and particularly after Breyer's follow up, I'd say 6-3 for Trump, possibly even 7-2.

Sotomayor tried to bail out Letter with her questioning immediately following Alito. It did not go well for Letter.

The justices plainly wanted a limiting principle. It was up to each attorney to argue for a principle that would put their client on the winning side of the dividing line. Letter was not up to the task of articulating a limiting principle.


So far the arguments in Vance are leaning pretty heavily against Trump.
I'm not panicking yet. My understanding is that in the Supreme Court the oral arguments are largely irrelevant and mostly for show. The Justices have read the briefs and know where they stand on the issue before them. They are unlikely to sacrifice the rule of law for a generation simply because a lawyer had a bad day.
  #59  
Old 05-14-2020, 01:00 PM
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I mentioned this in a different thread but my ex wife used to visit military bases as part of her job. Most of the time she needed no background check for that. She had to go through an extensive background check to visit an IRS building . And she was not going to do anything with any of their IT systems. I expect that their systems keep track of anybody who looks up a return so it would be easy to find out if anyone leaked Trumps info.
  #60  
Old 05-14-2020, 01:09 PM
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Traditionally SC justice appointees nominated by both the left and the right have ended up surprising and disappointing the presidents who nominated them. If nothing else the SC values its autonomy; how is the Republican party "controlling" the court other than having some broadly conservative justices on the bench?
Because there are 5 partisan Republicans on the court right now. Maybe they say they're nonpartisan, but their actions and words demonstrate that this is false.
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  #61  
Old 05-14-2020, 01:40 PM
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I propose that everybody's tax returns be considered public information, so long as the SSNs are blocked out. What do any of us have to hide? Any of us should be able to look up politicians, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Put everyone's returns out in the light.
  #62  
Old 05-14-2020, 01:46 PM
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Most of the opinion columns I have seen assume that the Supreme Court will rule that Trump bankers and accountants must comply with congressional and state court subpoenas. There is ample precedent for this view and I hope it proves correct. What if it does not? What if they rule that while in office a President is immune from investigation by anyone- maybe unless it is for an (undefined) good reason. What then? Do we need to riot in the streets? Is democracy dead?
In the case of his tax returns, the Courts would be invalidating a congressional law that allows the Congressional oversight powers. Considering the Court has previously ruled that a president can be sued in office and must respond to the litigation, to turn around and suggest that the president can ignore requests for tax returns related to congress' investigative powers would be an arbitrary ruling.

Courts would lose more legitimacy
  #63  
Old 05-14-2020, 01:48 PM
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[QUOTE=UltraVires;22301571]1) It isn't a requirement for office, but if you run, we will subpoena them and they will be released. Sounds like a requirement.

Further, you keep going back to how I am a private citizen. I don't see how that matters. If Congress is looking into tax policy in rural areas, then my status as a private citizen should give me a lesser claim to privacy than when they try that against a co-equal branch of government.[/wuote] Because it ISN’T a requirement for office. All Federal elected officials file all sorts of things, including financial disclosures, and even Trump hasn’t challenged that. They also have to report foreign gifts, and nobody in their right mind can claim that reporting the $10,000 pearl handled revolver gifted by Kim Jong Un is a “requirement for office.” It’s just paperwork.

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. These are all public transactions which could be gathered by anyone with a lot of time on their hands. Further, a candidate has a choice to spend no money and accept no donations and he still may be elected.
”Sounds like a requirement for office!!!1!” The only reason the transactions are public is because the law defines them as subject to disclosure. Thanks for taking us into the land of the absurd.

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To pass a law requiring it to disclose the president's tax returns is no different than requiring the president to disclose his own tax returns.
Except that having the IRS disclose it disproves this silly assertion that it is a requirement for office.
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Both states today in the SCOTUS arguments regarding electors agreed that a requirement that a candidate release his tax returns would violate the Qualifications Clause.
That is a requirement. Totally not the same thing. Go back and look at the threads on California’s law and you’ll see that I said back then that such laws are unconstitutional.
  #64  
Old 05-14-2020, 01:57 PM
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Public versus private citizen matters because... shit, I can’t believe his has to be explained to you... there is a general standard of ethics and disclosure that is routinely required of public employees. For example, The salaries of all political appointees are routinely published. I would not say a similar requirement should apply to private citizens. There are restrictions on stock ownership for government employees that obviously don’t apply to private people. Public life has additional scrutiny and transparency requirements due to the need for public trust, which literally doesn’t apply to private citizens. There’s literally one rule book for government types, and a different one for everyone else — and your ridiculous argument That if the President has to do something, then you might have to too, has no basis in law or fact going back to the founding of this country.

(Missed edit window)
  #65  
Old 05-14-2020, 03:58 PM
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Public versus private citizen matters because... shit, I can’t believe his has to be explained to you... there is a general standard of ethics and disclosure that is routinely required of public employees. For example, The salaries of all political appointees are routinely published. I would not say a similar requirement should apply to private citizens. There are restrictions on stock ownership for government employees that obviously don’t apply to private people. Public life has additional scrutiny and transparency requirements due to the need for public trust, which literally doesn’t apply to private citizens. There’s literally one rule book for government types, and a different one for everyone else — and your ridiculous argument That if the President has to do something, then you might have to too, has no basis in law or fact going back to the founding of this country.

(Missed edit window)
Yes, if Congress is considering an Ethics in Government Act, then that certainly wouldn't apply to me. What I am asking, and you continue to dodge with flippant statements, is that suppose they were considering (or at least were pretending to consider) legislation in which they believed that someone like me had important information for consideration. How far could they go? My tax returns or how often I have sex with my wife?

And what would stop them from using the pretext of investigation for a lawmaking function to go after me for pissing off the wrong Congressman?
  #66  
Old 05-14-2020, 04:13 PM
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As long as congress isn't violating anyone's rights, there doesn't need to be a legal limit on congress's subpoena power to prevent them from doing something stupid or vindictive. If the public really want stupid, vindictive congressmen, they are free to vote for them. If they don't they aren't required to.

EDIT: And this particular case is not stupid or vindictive, and we already know so much about Trump's shady business dealings that it would be stupid not to subpoena his tax returns.

Last edited by str8cashhomie; 05-14-2020 at 04:14 PM.
  #67  
Old 05-14-2020, 04:15 PM
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Yes, if Congress is considering an Ethics in Government Act, then that certainly wouldn't apply to me. What I am asking, and you continue to dodge with flippant statements, is that suppose they were considering (or at least were pretending to consider) legislation in which they believed that someone like me had important information for consideration. How far could they go? My tax returns or how often I have sex with my wife?

And what would stop them from using the pretext of investigation for a lawmaking function to go after me for pissing off the wrong Congressman?
They would first, have to somehow show that you were a part of their oversite, that you were a branch of government in which the founders placed as checks over eachother.

If you are not a part of the federal government, then nothing that has to do with their ability to oversee the other branches would apply.

I've seen this explained several times, and I'm not sure what it is that you are missing.

Here's a rule of thumb for you. If they have the constitutional ability to impeach you, they can look into your finances and other relevant activities. If you are not in any sort of position that you can be impeached, then they cannot. Is that simple enough?

Do you, or do you not, think that the three branches of government are supposed to act as checks and balances against eachother? If you do agree with the founders that oversite of the other branches is a necessary function, then how could they do so without having the power to investigate the other branches? If you disagree with the founders on this principle of government, can you explain your reasoning?


***
That doesn't meant that no one may ask to see your tax return. If you, as a private citizen were considered to have probable cause to have committed a financial crime, then they could get a warrant to look over your financial information there as well.
  #68  
Old 05-14-2020, 04:20 PM
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The GOP SCOTUS will probably side with Trump, as it usually does. This shouldn't be surprising -- it's a Republican-controlled branch of government right now. This sucks and hopefully it will change, but that's how it is.
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Traditionally SC justice appointees nominated by both the left and the right have ended up surprising and disappointing the presidents who nominated them. If nothing else the SC values its autonomy; how is the Republican party "controlling" the court other than having some broadly conservative justices on the bench?
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Because there are 5 partisan Republicans on the court right now. Maybe they say they're nonpartisan, but their actions and words demonstrate that this is false.
Partisan, as in you believe that they would hand down any ruling whatsoever, with no regard to jurisprudence or logical consistency, if it benefited the agenda of a Republican president or Republican legislators? That's a pretty harsh accusation. The conservative justices may be "fellow travelers", but I think they're more professional than that.
  #69  
Old 05-14-2020, 04:46 PM
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Partisan, as in you believe that they would hand down any ruling whatsoever, with no regard to jurisprudence or logical consistency, if it benefited the agenda of a Republican president or Republican legislators? That's a pretty harsh accusation. The conservative justices may be "fellow travelers", but I think they're more professional than that.
No -- these are generally smart and skilled judges. They'll do everything they think they can get away with, using legalese language and such, to help Republicans and Republican policies, but there may be lines they don't cross because they don't think they can get away with it. IMO, of course.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:23 PM
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No -- these are generally smart and skilled judges. They'll do everything they think they can get away with, using legalese language and such, to help Republicans and Republican policies, but there may be lines they don't cross because they don't think they can get away with it. IMO, of course.
You must have hated the Warren Court because 'They'll do everything they think they can get away with, using legalese language and such......'. The history of the SCOTUS is littered with partisan controversial decisions beginning with Marbury v Madison.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:24 PM
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Define "get away with". They're not up for re-election, or anything.
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Old 05-14-2020, 05:30 PM
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Define "get away with". They're not up for re-election, or anything.
Im not iiAndyiii but theoretically, SCOTUS decisions can be reversed by Congress changing or passing new legislation. Get away with can be interpreting laws in such a way that doesnt result in a Congressional backlash.
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:13 PM
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And what would stop them from using the pretext of investigation for a lawmaking function to go after me for pissing off the wrong Congressman?
Seems to me that the most obvious answer is in the imprecise term of “valid legislative function.” If Congress wants to do oversight of another branch of government, it is easy to see that making the IRS prove that it is conducting a through review of the President’s taxes and not corruptly giving him a pass on how much he owes, that’s a pretty clear case at first glance of Congress carrying out one of the main reasons it exists at all, which is to stop abuses of power by the executive branch.

If Congress wants to legislate in general tax policy, I can see a strong reason that it may want to see anonymized tax returns of classes of people, maybe to also to determine the accuracy of IRA audits of individuals generally. I fail to see how the detailed examination of one particular person, or their bedroom peccadillos, adds to that public policy issue. Such an investigation cannot be seen as a valid legislative function.

Frankly I haven’t directly answered your question because I would assume that you’re just being argumentative. You’re a lawyer. Your whole business is taking general principles of the law, often including vague terms, and applying them to sets of facts using common sense to determine what is allowed and what isn’t.

You know damn well that “probable cause” doesn’t mean “a cop just feels like arresting you that day.” Your slippery slope argument is like saying that if the government needs “probable cause” to carry out a search, cops will just assert that they have probable cause to do everything they want and we will forever live in a police state.

Similarly, legislative functions are not a blank check to abuse power. Courts have already said that the McCarthy hearings were an abuse of power because they served no legislative function. You’re well on your path to saying there are no legislative functions, so Congress can only have the information that the Executive Branch deems it wants it to have about the operations of our government.

Like, we don’t know who got loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. The Executive could just decide that those details are not part of a valid legislative function and cover up who they gave loans to. Is that the sort of government you are looking for?

(Well, maybe, until there’s a Dem in the White House and Republicans in charge of congressional committees...)
  #74  
Old 05-14-2020, 08:14 PM
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Maybe they say they're nonpartisan, but their actions and words demonstrate that this is false.
And the 4 partisan Democrats on the Court?
  #75  
Old 05-14-2020, 08:39 PM
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Nobody has ever argued that Congress should be able to turn a president's life upside-down just to see if something shakes loose.
**Cough** Whitewater **Cough**
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  #76  
Old 05-14-2020, 08:54 PM
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Define "get away with". They're not up for re-election, or anything.
Meaning not obliterate the remaining ambiguity about their partisan nature, which would destroy the remaining bits of confidence in the court as any semblance of a fair arbiter of law. So I think they occasionally throw a bone to fairness and decency to maintain those shreds of legitimacy that are barely holding together.
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Last edited by iiandyiiii; 05-14-2020 at 08:54 PM.
  #77  
Old 05-14-2020, 09:41 PM
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**Cough** Whitewater **Cough**

Yeah, it’s somewhat amusing how so many people wanna forget the precedents that case established about investigating sitting Presidents.

I’m not convinced this is going to go the way the Trumpists expect.
  #78  
Old 05-15-2020, 08:21 AM
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Yeah, it’s somewhat amusing how so many people wanna forget the precedents that case established about investigating sitting Presidents.

I’m not convinced this is going to go the way the Trumpists expect.
It only set a precedent about investigating sitting Democratic presidents. Republican presidents are a whole different matter entirely.
  #79  
Old 05-15-2020, 09:24 AM
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You must have hated the Warren Court because 'They'll do everything they think they can get away with, using legalese language and such......'. The history of the SCOTUS is littered with partisan controversial decisions beginning with Marbury v Madison.
Recent Scotus decisions often follow the exact (or almost exact) same 5-4 split, with the 5-strong majority all appointed by Trump or one of the Bushes, and the 4 appointed by Clinton, Obama or the moderate Bush-41. These are the "controversial partisan" decisions which have littered the Court recently.

The Warren Court had the reputation of being "liberal" — but there's a difference between "liberal leaning" and "partisan hack." Earl Warren himself was appointed by the Republican Dwight Eisenhower. To compare this great Chief Justice with John Roberts seems like a joke. Recall that the controversial Brown v. Board of Education decision was decided by a vote of 9-0.

I'm afraid that Marbury v Madison fails the sniff test for partisan decision also — "On February 24, 1803, the Court rendered a unanimous 4–0 decision against Marbury. Due to illnesses, Justices William Cushing and Alfred Moore did not sit for oral argument or participate in the Court's decision. " IIUC, in that case the four participating Court Justices — each appointed by a Federalist President — ruled against the Federalist Party's interest; no? (What definition of "partisan" are you using?)
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