Thursday January 26, 2023 – The United Supreme Court declined certiorari on the case Toth vs. United States. Certiorari is the process by which an appellate court has the discretion to review decisions made by trial courts.
Becase the Supreme Court refused to hear this case the appellate court’s decision stands. And that decision stinks! I think a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constituion. The Eight Amendment simply says “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Justice Gorsuch dissented from the denial of certiorari. Monica Toth, an American citizen who failed to report a foreign bank account as required by law. The Internal Revenue Service assessed a civil penalty against Ms. Toth for her failure to report, which she argued violated her rights under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment.
Justice Gorsuch noted that protection against excessive punitive economic sanctions is “fundamental” and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition”. He further argued that it would be wrong for governments to evade constitutional scrutiny by labeling fines as “civil” rather than “criminal”.
In addition, he pointed out other reasons why taking up this case was worth consideration such as incentivizing governments to impose exorbitant civil penalties and clashing with original understanding of Eighth Amendment.
Some Judges write for other Judges to help them understand the legal basis for a certain ruling, or even provide their own interpretation of an existing law. This can help inform future decisions on similar cases, since the opinion can serve as precedent.
Some judges write with lawyers in mind, crafting legal opinions that are complex and highly technical, so that attorneys can use them as powerful tools when advocating for their clients.
Some judges write for the public, with the intention of making legal opinions easier to understand and more accessible to a wider audience.
Justice Gorsuch writes for the public.
Attorney Steven A. Leahy reviews Justice Gorsuch’s opinion on Today’s Tax Talk.