Updated December 12, 2004

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Landmark Lawsuit May Compel Feds To Take Notice of ‘We the People’

IRS may no longer be able to ignore IRS critics’ petition

By James P. Tucker Jr.

The government’s arrogance in denying that it must respond when people exercise their constitutional right to petition for a redress of grievances could lead to a landmark Supreme Court case.

In a pre-trial response to a lawsuit by the We the People Foundation, a political watchdog organization, the government asserted on Nov. 12 that it had no obligation to listen or to respond to grievances under the “sovereign immunity” doctrine that it must consent to being sued.

The lawsuit, case no. 1:04-cv-01211 EGS, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. American Free Press has been given a copy of the We the People’s motion.*

Sovereign immunity does not apply when constitutional rights are at issue, the foundation responded, citing a case where former Attorney General Janet Reno withdrew that claim for that reason.

The foundation cited the last nine words of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing laws abridging the right of the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” As to intent, it noted that the Declaration of Independence protested Britain’s failure to act on redress of grievances.

Plaintiffs include Bob Schulz, founder of We the People, and more than 1,400 other Americans. They are not seeking money damages, only that the government abide by the Constitution and respond to petitions for redress of grievances.

The government also invoked the Anti-Injunction Act, a part of the Internal Revenue code. But the foundation responded, Schulz said, that “an act of Congress cannot trump the Constitution.”

Court papers in this case could become historical documents, according to Mark Lane, the famed civil rights attorney who is representing the foundation.

Several years ago, Schulz, and the organizations that he founded, the We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc., and the We The People Congress, Inc., initiated an effort to ask responsible public officials for official answers to perplexing legal questions about the power of the government to tax, and other grievances including the abuse of the war powers clauses in violation of the Constitution.

For years, in meeting after meeting, in letter after letter, in conference after conference, Schulz and thousands of people associated with him across the nation called upon the responsible officials to answer the specific and well documented questions addressed to them.

The only response that has ever been given was a statement from a top IRS official to a reporter for The New York Times, who had asked him why the IRS refused to answer the relevant questions, that the IRS is “responding to the petitions with enforcement actions.”

In other words, the government will punish people who dare to exercise their rights protected by the First Amendment.

When it became clear that the officials would not directly respond to the people’s petitions, approximately 2,000 plaintiffs, including Schulz, the organizations he had founded along with several former IRS agents, retained legal counsel and brought a lawsuit against the U.S. government in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

Whoever loses at the trial level is sure to appeal, Schulz said, and the issue of government’s obligation to respond to petitions for redress of grievances has never been definitively decided by the courts.

*  Readers, who are interested in obtaining a copy of this 42-page landmark memorandum, can download it for free on AFP’s web site or order it for $10 (the price of postage and printing). Write 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. For faster service, call 1-888-699-6397 and charge to Visa or MasterCard.

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