There is an old question
here about the 16th amendment that reviews the Ohio argument against the 16th amendment. This argument seems irrelevant but there exists a better argument by William Benson; the non-ratification argument.
Why have the courts insisted that his argument is fraudulent without saying why? Have they said why?
Similar “Sixteenth Amendment arguments” have been uniformly rejected by the courts in other cases including United States v. Thomas. In Thomas the court referred to Benson’s book and noted that the errors found by Benson had already been investigated by Secretary of State Knox at the time of ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, and had been determined to be insignificant.
That’s from the wikipedia article you cited.
And the results of Philander Knox’s investigation?
Last six words of the quote.
Here is what the *Thomas *case says:
Benson and Beckman did not discover anything; they rediscovered something that Secretary Knox considered in 1913. Thirty-eight states ratified the sixteenth amendment, and thirty-seven sent formal instruments of ratification to the Secretary of State. (Minnesota notified the Secretary orally, and additional states ratified later; we consider only those Secretary Knox considered.) Only four instruments repeat the language of the sixteenth amendment exactly as Congress approved it. The others contain errors of diction, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. The text Congress transmitted to the states was: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Many of the instruments neglected to capitalize “States,” and some capitalized other words instead. The instrument from Illinois had “remuneration” in place of “enumeration”; the instrument from Missouri substituted “levy” for “lay”; the instrument from Washington had “income” not “incomes”; others made similar blunders.
Thomas insists that because the states did not approve exactly the same test, the amendment did not go into effect. Secretary Knox considered this argument. The Solicitor of the Department of State drew up a list of the errors in the instruments and–taking into account both the triviality of the deviations and the treatment of earlier amendments that had experienced more substantial problems–advised the Secretary that he was authorized to declare the amendment adopted. The Secretary did so.
Although Thomas urges us to take the view of several state courts that only agreement on the literal text may make a legal document effective, the Supreme Court follows the “enrolled bill rule.” If a legislative document is authenticated in regular form by the appropriate officials, the court treats that document as properly adopted. Field v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649, 36 L. Ed. 294, 12 S. Ct. 495 (1892). The principle is equally applicable to constitutional amendments. See Leser v. Garnett, 258 U.S. 130, 66 L. Ed. 505, 42 S. Ct. 217 (1922), which treats as conclusive the declaration of the Secretary of State that the nineteenth amendment had been adopted. In United States v. Foster, 789 F.2d. 457 (7th Cir. 1986), slip op. 10-12 & n.6, we relied on Leser, as well as the inconsequential nature of the objections in the face of the 73-year acceptance of the effectiveness of the sixteenth amendment, to reject a claim similar to Thomas’s. See also Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 83 L. Ed. 1385, 59 S. Ct. 972 (1939) (questions about ratification of amendments may be nonjusticiable). Secretary Knox declared that enough states had ratified the sixteenth amendment. The Secretary’s decision is not transparently defective. We need not decide when, if ever, such a decision may be reviewed in order to know that Secretary Knox’s decision is now beyond review.
Yes, the courts have said why, in a series of cases rejected Benson’s arguments. See in particular in the decision of the Court of Appeals, upholding Benson’s
criminal conviction for income tax evasion, quoted in the wiki article you cited:
Benson argues that he did not need to file tax returns or pay income taxes because the Sixteenth Amendment was not properly ratified. […] The district court denied Benson’s request for an evidentiary hearing on this issue and refused to hear any Sixteenth Amendment argument. As the district court noted, we have repeatedly rejected the claim that the Sixteenth Amendment was improperly ratified. […] One would think this repeated rejection of Benson’s Sixteenth Amendment argument would put the matter to rest […] Benson is the co-author of The Law That Never Was, a book that purports to “review the documents concerning the states’ ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment” and to show “that only four states ratified the Sixteenth Amendment [and that] the official promulgation of the amendment by Secretary of State Knox in 1913 is therefore void.” […] Benson insists that as the co-author of The Law That Never Was, and the man who actually reviewed the state documents “proving” improper ratification, he is uniquely qualified to make the “exceptionally strong showing” we spoke of in Foster. Because of this, Benson insists, the district court should have at least granted him an evidentiary hearing on the Sixteenth Amendment issue. Benson is wrong. In Thomas, we specifically examined the arguments made in The Law That Never Was, and concluded that “Benson … did not discover anything.” We concluded that Secretary Knox’s declaration that sufficient states had ratified the Sixteenth Amendment was conclusive, and that “Secretary Knox’s decision is now beyond review.” […] It necessarily follows that the district court correctly refused to hold an evidentiary hearing; no hearing is necessary to consider an issue that is "beyond review
So in the
Thomas case the courts apparently reviewed Benson’s arguments in some detail and rejected them.
If you want to see the details of the court’s decision in
Thomas, you should be able to find it in any major law library, like in a courthouse. The citation is: 788 F.2d 1250, 1252 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. denied 107 S.Ct. 187 (1986).
Or you could click the link in the previous post.
This oughta be entertaining.
(Countdown to gold fringe on flag, seven, six, five…)