Constitutional Amendments and the 16th Amendment

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There has been much debate about the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution. Some of this debate has stated that the 16th Amendment gave the federal government the authority to levee a direct and unapportioned tax on sovereign Citizens within the several states. The contrary has actually occurred.

When an amendment is overturning another part of the Constitution, it has to specifically repeal that part of the Constitution that it is changing, because the Constitution cannot be in conflict with itself.

To have a clear understanding of the intricacies of written law and how each and every word effects the law, let us take a look at the original wording of the 16th Amendment as it was presented in Senate Joint Resolutions before it was approved.

  • Senate Joint Relotution Number 25
    "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes and inheritances."
  • Senate Joint Relotution Number 39
    "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect direct [emphasis mine] taxes on incomes without apportionment among the several States according to population." [44 Cong.Rec. 3377 (1909)]
  • Senate Joint Relotution Number 40
    "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."

The first two version of the amendment were rejected by the congress. The last version is the current 16th Amendment. The obvious the reason the first two versions failed is they would permit the federal government to levee a direct un-apportioned tax on the states. The last one only affected indirect taxes. This is consistent with numerous Supreme Court decisions found on the Supreme Court Case Reference regarding taxing powers of the federal government.

One particular case specifically stated that the 16th amendment was neverf intended to bring any new subjects into the taxing authority of the federal government.

“It was not the purpose or effect of that amendment to bring any new subject within the taxing power.” 

[Bowers v. Kerbaugh-Empire Co., 271 U.S. 170; 46 S.Ct. 449 (1926)]

It should also be noted when the Supreme Court passes opinion on law and the wording of said law might be a bit vague, they look to the intent of the law makers who were invloved in crafting the law. President Willaim H. Taft made a speech to the Congress regarding this amendment prior to its passing which divulges the intent at the time.

Readers should also note, however, that two thrids of the states are required to approve a US Constitutional amendment. There was no such radification. The Secretary of State at the time actually lied about the votes from the states to claim this two thirds majority vote. There have been numerous investigations into this radification and there is plenty of evidence to prove the lack of votes. US District Court Judge James C Fox actually went on record in 2003 to state, "If you examine the 16th amendment carefully, you would find that a sufficient number of states never ratified that amendment...that actually the ratification never really properly occurred".

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