October 4, 2019


Constitutional Scholars: Warren's Lobbying Tax May Violate Constitution (Yuichiro Kakutani, OCTOBER 4, 2019, Free Beacon)

Other scholars echoed von Spakovsky's concerns. Michael Barone, a resident fellow at the pro-free market American Enterprise Institute, said he could "see an argument that says this proposal would penalize the exercise of First Amendment rights," comparing it to "a confiscatory tax on newspaper." Trevor Burrus, a research fellow for the libertarian Cato Institute's constitutional studies center, concurred, saying "Sen. Warren has essentially proposed a tax on that fundamental right." He accused the Democratic presidential hopeful of attempting to "squelch political speech."

"She pushed for stricter regulations on banks and home loans, and then pushed--'lobbied' one might say--for the creation of the CFPB," Burrus said. "In short, Warren apparently believes in lobbying when she does it, or when it is done for causes she believes in. Her lobbying tax proposal would very likely be declared unconstitutional. The Constitution doesn't permit transparent attempts to squelch political speech."

Other legal scholars said the proposal would be appropriate. Ilya Shapiro, director of Cato's Constitutional Studies Center, said the lobbying tax is above board. While the policy might be misguided, Shapiro said, it is no different from excise taxes--taxes on goods and services--that are legal and imposed on those who purchase legal aid, political advertisements, and other speech-related services.

"Assuming there's federal jurisdiction in the first place--meaning that it affects interstate commerce--I don't really see a constitutional problem with it," he said. "There's special kinds of taxes on different kinds of products, alcohol for example, around the country. So this would be just one more of those."

...just ban lobbying activity.

Posted by at October 4, 2019 12:00 AM