Sir John Dalberg-Acton famously observed, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No federal agency enjoys more power than the “absolute power” wielded by the Internal Revenue Service. It’s little wonder, then, that under this power-drunk Obama regime, the IRS has become “corrupted absolutely.” It’s become the hammer to this president’s favorite nail: political dissent.
The bureaucratic cat’s out of the bag, and the evidence is undeniable. The Obama IRS has been illegally targeting conservative, Christian and Jewish groups and individuals for political retaliation, intimidation and, ultimately, destruction. These revelations have spurred calls for criminal prosecution and even impeachment. Still, little has been said about how to prevent such Stalinist abuses of power in the future.
We’ve been over-thinking the problem. Sometimes complicated questions come with easy answers. I wish I could take credit for it, but while I was participating in a recent meeting in Washington, D.C., Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, hit on the simple solution. “The Constitution is a great place to go in order to rein in the rampant and repeated abuses at the IRS,” he suggested. Namely, the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees the following:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
No individual – and especially no federal agency – is above the law. Regrettably, and largely through both citizen and government acquiescence, the IRS has been brandishing arbitrary and extra-constitutional authority, unchecked, for well over a century.
Imagine if the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, or the ATF suddenly began “searching” and “seizing” the “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” of millions of U.S. citizens every year without a warrant – without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion that any criminal or civil violation had occurred. People would be outraged, and for good reason. Such actions would rightly and universally be decried as unconstitutional. The lawsuits would fly, heads would roll and the courts would immediately shut down such “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This is exactly the kind of government tyranny our founders endeavored to thwart.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).