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Thursday, July 13, 2006 

The Wrath of Easterbrook

The twin headed beast known as boredom and intellectual curiosity led me to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals website once again today. I like to know what my circuit is doing, and I like to know what my judges are doing. This tax case caught my eye. The three judge panel included Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge Diane Wood, and Judge Diane Sykes. This opinion is full of great Easterbrook moments. Let's start with the first sentence...
Sophie Szopa maintains that only corporations and foreign citizens need pay income taxes.
I can just imagine his eyes rolling as he writes this.

Szopa decided to pull the old "you can't tax me" routine and paired it with the "and this court can't punish me" flourish. In case you are getting any ideas, this does not work. More from Frank...
Szopa maintained that the Tax Court cannot entertain litigation about what Szopa insists is an "employment tax" rather than an "income tax." Moreover, she asserts, the Tax Court is not a "court" - notwithstanding its name, its governing statutes, and Freytag v CIR [citation omitted] - and cannot resolve disputes about points of law.
Here's an argument that's going nowhere fast. Easterbrook then says "There is no excuse for persistence in such a foolish argument."

Fear not, Judge Easterbrook has enough venom for everyone, including the Justice Department. The DoJ claimed that the amounts of money that they spent fighting these frivolous suits was... well, a lot. Easterbrook then examines the salary paid to a government tax lawyer as well as the costs of support staff. Using a little math, Easterbrook figures out that it would take a government tax lawyer ten full days to respond to one of these frivolous claims. He says...
If this is really how the Department of Justice staffs these cases, it needs to rethink its assignment practices.
He's arrogant... but he has earned the right to be. Another gem...
Why would it take 10 days to produce a brief at the glacial rate of 1.6 pages a day?
Even I write faster than that.

I just wish that I could have heard the oral arguments for this case. Easterbrook must've been losing his mind. I think that he's an incredibly entertaining judge. He's brainy as hell and doesn't have a problem browbeating the lowly mortals who dare enter his court. Someone put this man on the Supreme Court. He and Scalia would be hilarious to see in action together.

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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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