Frothingham v. Mellon and other cases denying taxpayer standing are unconstitutional

The court’s rulings that taxpayers, asserting constitutional claims, have no standing to sue for refunds are unconstitutional and outrageous.

The rulings below uphold the impossible anomaly that taxpayers can file refund claims on statutory grounds but not on constitutional grounds.

In Frothingham v. Mellon, [1] the supreme court held that generally, a federal taxpayer’s interest in seeing that Treasury funds are spent in accordance with the Constitution is too attenuated to give rise to the kind of redressible personal injury required for Article III standing. And about four years ago, in Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, the court reaffirmed Frothingham. /2/

And about 15 years ago, in Suzanne M. Bartley v. United States of America, relying on Frothingham and other cases, the 7th Circuit dumped her constitutional claim for a $16,000 personal refund. Perhaps $16,000 was “too attenuated” or nominal for the court to understand.

In her case, the court held, “The constitutional limitations that Bartley cites in support of her claim include Clauses 1 and 18 of Article I, sec. 8 . . . Clause 6 of Article I, sec. 9, the takings and due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment. * * * None of these provisions constitutes the kind of specific limitation on spending [required by previous court opinions to sue the government for a tax refund on constitutional grounds.]” [3] The court then proceeded to tell Mrs. Bartley to go to Congress with her grievances or vote for sympathetic candidates. [4]

The effect of all of the cases is to slam shut the doors of America’s federal courthouse on taxpayers who are actually and substantially injured by unconstitutional federal taxes and have the temerity to try to enter.


[1] Frothingham v. Mellon, decided with Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U. S. 447, 485-486 (1923)

[2] at pp. 8.10. (2007).

[3] Readers won’t learn much about the case by reading the court’s decision, which ignored almost all of the arguments Mrs. Bartley made. A short summary of the case she brought is reported at Mrs. Bartley also filed claims on behalf of all federal taxpayers. For fiscal year 1993 alone, the total amount of the refund approximated $808 billion. If the pattern of overcollection for fiscal year 1993 was true for fiscal year 1991-1992, the grand total of the refund would be a staggering $2.4 trillion. Was that also “too attenuated”?


Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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