Promoting freedom, innovation, and growth

Connect with IPI

Receive news, research, and updates

February 24, 2016

Conservatives Who Defy the Rule-of-Law on Taxation


In the current baffling presidential election cycle, many are questioning anew whether candidates like Donald Trump are “real conservatives.” Don’t conservatives oppose tariffs on imports? Don’t they have problems with an imperial presidency?

While there may be policy areas where conservatives disagree, or issues where there is no consensus, you would think that all would agree that respecting the rule-of-law is vital to a functioning constitutional republic.

That’s why it’s troubling to read today in the Wall Street Journal about Republican state legislators who are purposely passing laws that defy settled Supreme Court decisions and the determination of Congress.

Specifically, the Supreme Court has found that states may not apply sales taxes to transactions unless the seller has a physical presence in that state. Those states that wish to do so anyway have been pushing the issue at the federal level for years, but Congress has expressly refused to embrace that idea. The legislation under various names has never passed both houses of Congress, and thus it’s never gone to the president’s desk for signature. And when Congress refuses to create new law, that’s as firm a decision as passing a law.

But that hasn’t stopped Deb Peters, a Republican state senator in South Dakota, from successfully moving a bill designed to defy Supreme Court precedent and the will of Congress. Other states have also successfully passed or are passing similarly designed legislation directly contrary to the Supreme Court and Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce.

We’re federalists to the core and fans of states challenging the federal government when it overreaches its constitutional authority. But this isn’t one of those cases. Both the Supreme Court and Congress have made a decision and refused to act.

For a legislator to advocate policies in direct contravention of such is to defy the rule of law, which one would think would give pause to any thinking American, regardless of party.


  • TaxBytes-New

Copyright Institute for Policy Innovation 2018. All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy Contact IPI.

e-resources e-resources