Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the government’s case against William J. Benson, author of The Law That Never Was–The Fraud of the 16th Amendment and Personal Income Tax, on October 28 at 10 a.m. in the Main Courtroom, Room 2721 of the United States Courthouse, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois. Issues to be decided include whether the 16th Amendment, which allows for the personal income tax, was actually ratified and whether evidence of non-ratification is admissible in a court of law.
William J. Benson was charged with falsely telling the American people the 16th Amendment was not ratified and therefore the income tax is unconstitutional. The evidence of the truth of his statement was struck from the record as “irrelevant and immaterial.” The appeal before the 7th Circuit raises the question of whether American citizens will continue to be allowed to prove their innocence in the courts of this country.
In 1895 the United States Supreme Court declared the federal income tax unconstitutional as an unapportioned direct tax. Congress proposed the 16th Amendment to allow the government to impose and collect taxes on income. The proposed amendment was sent to the States for ratification. Then Secretary of State, Philander Knox, received certificates of ratification from the States that showed differences between the language proposed by Congress and what was ratified by the States. Certified documents on file in the United States National Archives establish that Knox, knowing that States cannot change the language of a proposed Constitutional amendment, relied upon a presumption that no State had done so, and declared the 16th Amendment as having been properly ratified.
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Benson, who once worked for the Illinois Department of Revenue, visited the National Archives in Washington, D.C., as well as the capitols of all 48 states. Benson obtained certified copies of the House and Senate Journals pertaining to the ratification of the 16th Amendment. These documents show that several states did, intentionally, modify the language proposed by Congress, proving the presumption relied upon by Secretary of State Knox was false. Benson published his findings in a two-volume set of books, and sold his books and supporting documents on his Web site .
In 2004, the government sued Benson to enjoin him from falsely telling the American people that the 16th Amendment was not ratified. In response, Benson’s attorney, Jeffrey A. Dickstein of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, offered the certified documents into evidence. On motion of the government’s attorney, the evidence was struck from the record as irrelevant and immaterial, and the District Court issued the injunction. The complete set of pleadings filed in the District Court is available on Mr. Dickstein’s Web site .
The appeal before the 7th Circuit raises four fundamental questions of national significance: whether an American, charged with making a false statement, is entitled to present evidence that his statement is true; whether the injunction violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech; whether Secretary of State Knox committed fraud in proclaiming the 16th Amendment ratified; and whether the federal income tax is unconstitutional.