Tag Archives: Jurisdiction

Average Joe SCOTUS: Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation

Strap yourselves in for another procedural snoozefest, everyone.

Y’all remember what a royal prick Adolf Hitler was, right? Well, despite the fact that he’s been dead for nearly 80 years, he’s still occasionally a pain in the ass.

You see, in 1900, one of the petitioner’s ancestors, Paul Cassirer bought a painting made by artist Camille Pissarro. Never mind that Pissarro would be a great name for an artist who paints with urine. The painting was called, Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon. Effect of Rain. As Paul got on in years, he passed this painting on to his family member, Lilly Cassirer, in the 1930’s.

A Marching Bunch of Cunts

Once shit started flying in Nazi Germany, Lilly Cassirer, being Jewish, was like, “I gotta get the fuck on up outta here.”

So she applied for permission to leave. In order to be allowed to do so, she “gave” her Pissarro to the Nazi’s. I quote “gave” because it wasn’t really much of a choice, was it? Basically, it was a racketeering payment.

Lilly was successful, and made her way with family to the United States.

Long after Hitler and his merry band of fuckwads were eliminated, in 1958, Lilly successfully sued the German Federal Republic in the U.S. Court of Restitution (Not going to lie, never fucking heard of this court). Germany paid her approximately $13,000 for her troubles, as opposed to returning the painting, because it was presumed the painting was lost.

While you might be thinking, “seems fair enough.” Well, in today’s money, that painting is apparently worth about $40 million. So, adjusted for inflation, the Cassirer family still got fucked.

Apparently $40 million worth of paint and canvas AKA Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon. Effect of Rain

It turns out though, that the painting wasn’t destroyed. Apparently the Nazi’s who took possession of it, passed it around like a porn star in a gang bang. It made it’s way to a California art gallery in 1951. Since there was no fucking internet then, it apparently wasn’t that easy to know it was safely here in the US.

Apparently, many in the US liked cash more than the painting, because it got sold multiple times after arriving here, eventually making it’s way to Missouri in 1976, when Swiss national Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza bought that shit, and had it sent to a museum he put together in Spain.

Working with the Spanish government, he started the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection foundation (TBC), a museum of fine art, or some shit. Apparently Spain doesn’t give much of a fuck about Germany stealing valuable paintings, because they didn’t bother looking into whether this painting was legitimately theirs to keep, or had been stolen by the Nazis.

Eventually Claud Cassirer found it in a catalog in 1999, and was like, “Well fuck me, it still exists! I’ve been looking for this mother fucker for decades.” So he sent a letter to Spain and the museum, telling them to give him his family’s painting back. Spain and the museum told him to pound sand.

As you can imagine, claims involving foreign governments and entities are fucking complicated. If it’s a hostile government, you’re basically pissing in the wind. But if it’s an ally of the US, they generally try to work with us and achieve a fair outcome.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

So Cassirer went to a federal district court in California, where he lived, and sued Spain and the museum holding the painting, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). This law basically says, foreign countries are not immune from suits where the issue in question involves a violation of international law, such as Nazi’s stealing a fucking painting.

But Spain was like, “Woah! Sure we helped set up this museum, but that’s it. We didn’t steal or buy the fucking painting.” They went on to cite all kinds of reasons why they didn’t feel they were either liable. Their list included that they weren’t the right party to be suing since the museum had the painting, whether Cassirer filed suit in a timely manner, and pretty much any other fucking reason they could think of to get out of this shit. Cassirer acquiesced, and eventually removed Spain from the suit, going after the museum instead.

So now we’re down to two combatants, Cassirer and Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (TBC) Foundation.

California federal court had to decide, what trumps what—California or Spanish law?

At the heart of this, is Cassirer’s claims that the museum is guilty of unlawful possession and conversion (a fancy term for someone wrongfully taking possession of someone else’s property) under California law, which is a state-law claim, but that we’re in a federal court with a foreign country’s entity, which wants Spanish law to prevail. Under Spanish law, a trial to determine whether the Museum knew it was stolen when they bought it. If not, then they bought it in good faith and they can keep it.

When a person sues in a Federal court because they’re suing a foreign entity, but their suit revolves around a state law violation, there are precedents for this. The Erie Doctrine, from Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, requires state law from the state the suit was filed under to prevail. There’s also a state-choice-of-law doctrine, from  Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Co., which basically says the federal court should defer to whatever the state court would have done, looking at whether a California court would use California law or Spanish law.

As is often the case with SCOTUS hearings, we have multiple federal courts who’ve made decisions on shit like this, and at least two of them don’t agree. While most of the circuits held that state-law would apply, those cunts in the 9th circuit, being squarely located in Californistan, with their touchy-feely rules, decided that Spain law should prevail, because America are assholes, and we want to be kinder to our foreign friends. Under Spanish law, they determined the museum was fucking clueless as to it being stolen, so it’s their painting.

While all this shit was going on, Claud Cassirer couldn’t take it anymore and promptly died. So his heirs, not wanting to just walk away from a $40 million dollar painting, are carrying on in his name.

The Cassirers claimed multiple reasons why they win. “If this museum was in California, and the Museum was a Cali museum, we wouldn’t even fucking be here. We’d win under Cali’s unlawful possession and conversion laws. We just needed to go to federal court, because these assholes are in a foreign country with our shit.

They also argue that the US has a long-standing history of states’ rights, which should mean state law applies, and that the FSIA doesn’t really change that.

Then they also threw in the idea that while the 9th circuit’s interpretation may have some merit to it, they’re literally the only assholes who see it this way, and therefore we should ignore them because they’re idiots.

The federal government joined the Cassirer’s in arguing for their case. They added that the FSIA was meant to lay the framework to sue a foreign state, not to demand federal law take over and preempt state laws in the suit. The state is free to apply it’s own law, and the federal government will support them. They also pointed out that other federal tort laws had already been decided by SCOTUS finding in a similar manner. So basically, the 9th circuit once again, finds themselves isolated on an island with zero friends.

Beverly and Claud Cassirer

But the museum, undeterred, fired back with a litany of their own arguments. Basically, the crux of their argument is with the 9th circuit’s claim that Spanish law apply. Since the museum had no idea, presumably because they were too fucking lazy to even bother checking, the Cassirer’s claim is against the assholes who stole it. So they essentially want them to dig up Hitler, and steal it from his tomb, I guess.

As SCOTUS’ nerdiness knows no bounds, the issue of diversity jurisdiction vs. federal question jurisdiction is at the heart of this.

Let’s say some bad shit goes down in California, to a Californian, and it’s at the behest of Spain. In that instance, California law applies, but because we’re dealing with a Spanish entity in Spain, you go to a federal court who will adjudicate the California law, not federal law. They’re only in federal court so it’s one country fighting with the other, not some punk-ass state going after a foreign country. That’s diversity jurisdiction.

Federal question jurisdiction is when the supposed violation violates federal law, the constitution, etc.

So the museum felt the FSIA laws are the laws at question here, and therefore federal law, not state law prevail, meaning Erie and Klaxon are irrelevant. They then brought up foreign policy concerns, as if somehow Spain and the US are going to go to war over a stupid fucking painting. And they ended it all by saying that the FSIA was created so that when going after a foreign agent, there’s one standard, the federal standard, not fifty fucking laws from fifty fucking states. They were like, “it’s way more efficient, bro!”

Counsel for TBC Thaddeus Stauber, in his opening statement laid it out like this:

But for Mr. Cassirer’s retirement to San Diego, California would have no interest in this case. As this Court in Verlinden tells us, the FSIA arises out of Congress and the executive’s shared goals of normalizing relations among nations during the Cold War and bringing the U.S. in line with international law norms, as recognized by this Court in Philipp v. Hungary — Germany. To achieve these goals, the FSIA establishes a federal regime that is intended to ensure fair and uniform treatment regardless of where in the United States a foreign state is held.

Thaddeus Stauber

Despite this colorful argument, the justices seemed to be having none of it. Justice Kagan grilled him on his logic, arguing that the FSIA basically says, unless this is some nation-to-nation dispute that needs to be handled diplomatically, a foreign entity should be treated like any Joe Blow who fucks over some American. Yet good ole Thaddeus Stauber seems to think that his client still seems to deserve some special treatment because they’re not American.

He went on to say, “Listen, assholes. The painting isn’t in California. It wasn’t stolen in California. The defendants aren’t in California. It’s only the petitioner who is conveniently located in California. So if I’m some asshole who wants to sue someone over something I don’t like, and California is the only place that has a law I could win under, by your dumb fucking logic, all I gotta do is move to Cali, sue there, and get my wish. I mean seriously, WTF?”

Justice Breyer however, was also rather unimpressed, giving this testy exchange:

Stephen G. Breyer

Well, so let’s follow through what you say. I see what—I think I see it.

It says the foreign state, Spain, shall be liable in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances.

Thaddeus J. Stauber


Stephen G. Breyer

Your view is the like circumstance is you’re in a federal court.

Thaddeus J. Stauber


Stephen G. Breyer


Here, they happen to be suing under California law for property law.

Thaddeus J. Stauber


Stephen G. Breyer

Conversion, I think.

Justice Stephen Breyer

Thaddeus J. Stauber


Stephen G. Breyer

Okay? Fine.

Now let’s see.

So we pretend that we are in a federal court suing for conversion.

How do we get into federal court? I mean, it’s sort of interesting.

I mean, is it supposed to be an arising-under case? Do we pretend it’s arising under? Maybe we should pretend it’s a bank conversion case, in which case maybe the law of the Vatican applies.

I don’t know. I mean, how do we do this? It sounds a little complicated, your view.

At least the opposite view is simple.

You say what it was. It was a state claim.

State claims belong here in—under these circumstances, under diversity jurisdiction, and so we apply California law.

Okay? But what is your view? We don’t even know what the claim is supposed to be.

Thaddeus J. Stauber

Your Honor, we would submit that our view is actually the simpler view because, if you have a uniform federal common law choice test that will apply in all of the federal circuits and therefore apply in all of the 50 states, then you will not end up with a disparity of treatment for a foreign state regardless of where it appears.

Stephen G. Breyer


My only problem with that is I can’t think of any private individual who would be treated that way.

Breyer’s point being that because the US tends to favor state law, a lot of laws for common crimes are only written at the state level, so the federal government often doesn’t even fucking have their own separate laws for them. This happens to be one of those cases. Like, he can’t even think of a federal law that would apply here, but clearly Cassirer has a case. They stole his shit!

Thaddeus Stauber went on to argue:

California’s choice-of-law rule test does not take into consideration the very federal and international concerns which are taken into consideration under the federal common law. In other words, in this particular case, California’s choice-of-law test does not take into consideration the Terezin Declaration or the Washington Principles or the Holocaust Era Art Restitution Act of 2016. It does not take into consideration those national policies which formulate the United States’ position that these court — these cases should be brought to a fair and just resolution through some sort of negotiation or alternative resolution in respect for the laws of all states, not just the United States. And by forcing a federal court to use the state law choice, you are in effect handcuffing that federal court judge who is attempting to administer their case in a fair and balanced way to take into consideration these competing interests which are at play in extraordinary expropriation cases.

In the end, SCOTUS was unmoved by Stauber’s creative arguments, and issue a unanimous decision, once again determining the ninth circuit are fucking idiots and should be ignored, Spain and it’s stupid Spanish law can get fucked, and Cassirer made a more compelling argument. So they go back to California to argue their case under California law. If they’re lucky, assuming they win, the painting may be returned to them. Then again, maybe not. Who knows?

Average Joe SCOTUS: Boechler v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Hello, SCOTUS nerds. In today’s episode of “How Fast Can I Put You To Sleep?” we have a monstrously boring procedural issue at play.

The basic idea is that Boechler P.C., some podunk Fargo North Dakota law firm (yes, that Fargo), submitted the taxes they withheld for their employees, but apparently their accountant sucks royal ass—making a good number of mistakes in their submission to the IRS.

So the IRS sent Boechler a letter saying, “Hey, you’re into law? So are we. Cool-cool-cool. Hey, um…we couldn’t help but notice your accountant’s math is about as accurate as a storm trooper’s aim. They kinda fucked up your employee’s tax withholdings. But it’s all good, we don’t want no trouble or anything. Could you please just correct it, and resubmit it. Thank you so much. Call us sometime. Toodles!”

Jeanette Boechler

Here’s the rub, not only is Boechler’s accountant trash, but apparently their mailroom sucks balls too, because they got the letter, and either lost it, or just didn’t respond to it all.

So the IRS got their feelings hurt at this point because they were ghosted by Boechler. Since they’re whiny little bitches, they wielded their superpower to fine people for shit they don’t like, hitting Boechler with a 10% “We got our feelings hurt” fee, amounting to a little over $19,000.

In a rather admirable move, Boechler, ever the master ghosting artists didn’t respond to that shit either. Apparently there are a lot of people in North Dakota who need lawyers, and they’re just to busy to deal with the IRS’ shit right meow.

So now the IRS’ feelings were REALLY hurt. This time, they’re like, “You know what, fuck you. We didn’t want to talk to you anyway. But we want our $19,250, so we’re levying your ass, and we’re just going to conveniently pull that shit right out of your bank account. How do you like dem apples, mother fucker?”

Knowing that they were going to be stuck paying this shit, Boechler finally decided to respond. They started off by saying, “First of all, fuck you. And fuck your petty-ass fine, too. We’re submitting a request for a “Collection Due Process” (CDP) hearing. We’ll see you cunts in tax court.”

They were told in the notice they received from the IRS they had 30 days to respond. The deadline according to the IRS, was August 28th, 2017, 30 days after they mailed that shit out. Boechler, being the consummate troll, mailed that shit August 29th, 2017, precisely one day late, by the IRS’ definition.

So you’re probably wondering why SCOTUS is involved with this shit, right? Well, we’ve talked before about how SCOTUS loves nerdy shit. Well…here comes the nerdgasm.

You see, that 30 day time limit that required they respond by August 28th…it’s debatable when the clock starts on that 30 days. The IRS argues it starts as soon as they mail it. But Boechler, being a law firm, loves to fucking argue with anyone they can. It’s what they do.

So they were like, “Listen you IRS cunts, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, because you’re an incompetent bunch of government hacks, but there’s another group of incompetent government hacks called the United States Postal Service. And it might come as a surprise to you dumb fucks, but they don’t deliver mail instantaneously like an email. It takes them several days to bring that shit to us. As such, we think the 30-day response limit should start from when we received your letter, not from when you sent it. I mean, how does that make any fucking sense? We’re not fucking psychics. We don’t know you even fucking mailed a letter until we receive it. So this is some straight up bullshit.”

*Mic drop*

The issue at hand for SCOTUS to decide, is a legal principle called “Equitable Tolling.” It basically means that in instances like this, where there’s a time bar (a legal term for a time limit), the courts have the authority to decide when the clock starts, stops, and even sometimes when it pauses.

The U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 8th and 9th Circuits were like, “Fuck Boechler. Rules are rules. The court hearing Boechler’s argument lacks jurisdiction to allow for equitable tolling.” But then along comes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and they’re like, “Whoa, you assholes. Boechler has a fair fucking point. They filed an appeal, and the court should absolutely have the right to apply equitable tolling if they think it’s appropriate.

So the question before SCOTUS is whether the U.S. Tax Court has the right to apply equitable tolling in this case, and potentially grant relief to Boechler, extending their deadline to 30 days after they received the letter, as opposed to when the letter was sent.

As arguments began, one sticking point was in the tax code itself. Code 26 U.S.C. § 6330 (d)(1) says the following

(1) Petition for review by Tax Court

The person may, within 30 days of a determination under this section, petition the Tax Court for review of such determination (and the Tax Court shall have jurisdiction with respect to such matter).

So the IRS is arguing that this 30-day time bar written into this statute is as solid as an 18 year old boy’s dick at a strip club in this wording, and only if the person files within 30 days (by the IRS’ definition), can a tax court opine on whether this person owes the IRS their fines and shit. But because that shit is worded before the part in parenthesis giving the tax courts jurisdiction, it means the tax courts don’t have jurisdiction on the time bar, and thus can’t grant equitable tolling.

But those creative legal fucks at Boechler argue that the part in parenthesis about the Tax Court having jurisdiction, applies to everything, including whether or not to grant equitable tolling.

So when I say SCOTUS loves nerdy shit, I’m going to tell you, I’m serious, y’all. They spend a LOT of time debating why Congress would put this shit in parenthesis, and how that mattered in the decision of this case.

To begin arguments, counsel Melissa Arbus Sherry opened with this:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: This Court has repeatedly held that time limits are rarely jurisdictional and that if Congress wants to make them jurisdictional, it has to speak clearly.

Section 6330(d)(1) does not have the needed clarity. The first clause reads like an ordinary statute of limitations.

It says what the taxpayer may do, and it says nothing about the Tax Court’s jurisdiction.

The second clause does speak to jurisdiction, but the only reference back to the first is through the two words “such matter.” Now we think “such matter” refers to a petition to the Tax Court for review of a CDP determination.

The Commissioner agrees, but he says it also refers to the 30-day deadline to file that petition. Our reading is more natural.

It stops at the closest reasonable antecedent, and it uses the word “matter” as it’s ordinarily understood.

The Commissioner’s reading requires more work, and it requires this Court to treat the time limit the same as subject matter in the context of subject matter jurisdiction.

If nothing else, it is far from clear. The statutory history resolves any doubt.

Melissa Arbus Sherry

As originally enacted, the same time limit governed the Tax Court and the district courts and it was not jurisdictional.

The relevant language has not changed.

It has to mean the same thing today as it did in 1998. Congress enacted this collection due process regime in order to protect taxpayers from IRS abuses.

It would not have included a rare and harsh jurisdictional deadline to close those courthouse doors, let alone through a vague parenthetical reference to “such matter.” And equitable tolling easily follows from that.

That is the presumption, and it is not overcome here.

The limitations period looks just like the one in Irwin, and it looks nothing like the deadlines in Brockamp.

The CDP regime is remedial, and it is a place where equity finds a comfortable home. I welcome the Court’s questions.

By and large, the justices seemed to accept counsel Sherry’s argument, not really seeming to argue against her in any way. They all seemed of the opinion that the wording of the statute could have specifically addressed time bar jurisdiction, and it didn’t, leaving the idea of equitable tolling open to the Tax Court which has jurisdiction otherwise in this statute.

Justice Clarence Thomas

For the IRS, counsel Johnathan Bond argued that the statute above basically says that the Tax Court has jurisdiction over their CDP claim, if it’s filed within the time bar, meaning that the time bar is absolute, and only if they submit it on time, can the tax court give their opinion. So if this is true, then the tax court can’t fuck around with no equitable tolling.

Justice Thomas chimed in immediately and asked if there was ever an instance where equitable tolling was considered for such cases.

This started off a fairly interesting exchange between counsel Bond, and Justices Roberts and Barrett:

Jonathan C. Bond

Yes, there are statutory grounds for tolling that apply that are different fundamentally from equitable tolling, and if I could address those specifically. There’s one in this provision itself, 630 — 6330(d)(2) for cases of bankruptcy. There are also general statutory tolling provisions that apply to this and many other provisions in the code for cases where a person is in a combat zone or a disaster area. What’s fundamentally different about those — about each of those areas is that the information the IRS needs to know in order to determine whether it can proceed with collection is in its possession and is automatically processed by its system. The IRS gets monthly data from the Department of Defense on whether someone is in a combat zone.

It has — its systems automatically query whether someone’s ZIP code is affected by a disaster declaration.

And the IRS is served with a bankruptcy petition and knows whether to put a freeze code on that person’s account. Equitable tolling is fundamentally different.

Jonathan C. Bond

And the open-ended exception that I think Petitioner is proposing would not be workable for the IRS because, when the IRS issues these 26,000-plus collection due process determinations, it would have no way of knowing whether a particular taxpayer who doesn’t pay or doesn’t file their petition on time is subject to an equitable circumstance or an extraordinary circumstance that stands in their way.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

They get monthly reports from the Department of Defense over who’s in a combat zone?

Jonathan C. Bond

They receive monthly data from the Department of Defense that is — that flows into the IRS’s data system, that’s correct.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Well, how do they even know that — I mean, when do they find out? I mean, nobody knows if they’re going to make — file a claim for something until they file a claim. I mean, I — I’m just — there are a lot of people, and the Department of Defense — I — I — I just am struck by the difficulty that that presents and want to make sure I understand what’s involved.

Jonathan C. Bond


As — as — as we understand it, the Department of Defense provides this data that goes into the IRS’s system addressing taxpayers generally, not just those —

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Taxpayers generally? Like every taxpayer in the country?

Jonathan C. Bond

Those — those who are in combat zones, that data is provided by the Department of Defense.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Chief Justice John Roberts

So there is somewhere in there something said, you know, Fred Smith not in combat zone.

And we don’t even know if Fred Smith’s going to file something in the Tax Court or not.

Amy Coney Barrett

And do you cross-reference it when the list comes in and — and — and —

Jonathan C. Bond

Yes, this is processed by the IRS’s computers.

And that — that’s because this doesn’t just affect collection due process but a number of other deadlines and provisions in —

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Yeah, I know. But my point is that your name is there even though you’ve got nothing to do with — there’s no reason the IRS should worry about you, or —

Jonathan C. Bond

Well, if you’re a taxpayer. It’s not all persons generally but all taxpayers.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Wow. Okay.

So let me summarize what was said here and what his argument is. He’s saying the fucking IRS gets monthly reports from the government as to who is going through bankruptcy, who’s in a combat zone, or who is in a disaster area. Even if they don’t owe the IRS a fucking dime. Sounds like a big fucking list, yo.

The IRS then cross reference that with all the fuckwads they think owe them money, against this grand list of people who are going through some shit, and any matches they find, they’ll cut them a little slack on that 30 day time limit. Everyone else? Fuck ’em.

“Wow” indeed, justice Roberts. “Wow” indeed.

I don’t know about you, but this seems like a pretty crazy system the IRS has set up, just to determine who can get a little leniency on the 30-day time bar.

Justice Breyer also seemed to think counsel Bond might have been hitting the crack pipe before he walked into the court room, because he took him to task on his knowledge on the meaning of words. See, counsel Bond argued that the tax court’s ability to hear a CDP petition rests on the “timely” submission of the request, according to the statute. So he thinks that means that “timely” must be settled first, before the tax court gets involved. But justice Breyer seemed to be having none of this shit:

Stephen G. Breyer

Justice Stephen Breyer

So does that mean it’s well established — look, the obvious thing in English — I don’t know about the last antecedent rule and so forth, but — but just in ordinary English, it says here “such matter.” Okay? Now that could refer to the appeal of such determination, or it could refer to the appeal of such determination filed within 30 days.

Okay? Now I think that was Justice Kavanaugh’s point.

And it got me why it couldn’t refer to either.

And — and then, if you go back to (e), it does say timely, but, I mean, you go back to laws — Black’s Law Dictionary, I don’t know, maybe you go back to Justinian, and it says what tolling does is it stops the clock.

Okay? It stops the clock. So, if you do have tolling and you stop the clock for three days because the person involved was very ill or his family was or something, and the best reason in the world he couldn’t get to the post office, there was black ice everywhere, I don’t know, but then it stopped three days later.

Okay? Then it was timely when he got around to filing it, and they excused it. I mean, can’t it be read that way? I mean, I guess everybody’s asking the same question, just emphasizing “can’t.”

Jonathan C. Bond

So I don’t think “timely” in (e)(1) can mean that —

Stephen G. Breyer


Jonathan C. Bond

— again because — because — again, for two reasons.

First, that’s not how this — that’s the opposite of how this Court has described the effect of tolling in the equitable tolling context on which Petitioner relies.

And in this particular provision, where Congress is saying a timely petition is a jurisdictional prerequisite, it’s passing strange for Congress to say timely when they — if what they meant was timely only by operation of equitable doctrines that do not apply to jurisdictional prerequisites. So I think that argument just doesn’t hold.

Stephen G. Breyer

The law dictionary says equitable tolling is a court’s discretionary extension of a legal deadline.

So they extended the legal deadline, and, therefore, it is timely.

Justice Breyer, hearing his arguments, and clearly not being too impressed by them, went on to ask, “OK, you dumb fuck. Let me ask you this. If we side with Boechler, explain to us exactly what bad shit is going to happen to the IRS as a result?”

Counsel Bond resonded:

So I would point you to two things, one specific to this context and more a — a broader concern of spillover effects in the code. The specific consequence here is that if tolling is available, then when the 30-day deadline to petition runs, in the 26,000 cases where the IRS issues these determinations, it then will be in a state of uncertainty about what, if anything, it can do to collect because it will know that a taxpayer may file a late petition, assert tolling, and months or years later a court will conclude that tolling was, in fact, available.

And I think that puts the IRS in an impossible position. More broadly, I would — I would point the Court to spillover effects of interlocking relationships in the code.

The Ninth Circuit, in the Organic Cannabis case, pointed to an illustration of this if you apply Petitioner’s approach to Section 6213(a) governing deficiency.

And that’s 95 percent of the court’s docket.

And they explained that if you apply equitable tolling there, because of the interrelationships of the code, you’ll end up harming taxpayers by precluding them from seeking — or from bringing refund suits. The Taxpayer Advocate has acknowledged that

Counsel Bond seems to be arguing that the time bar is paramount and absolute, and thus not available for tolling, because congress knew it would cause the IRS to wonder if and when it’s gonna get fucking paid. Congress needs that money, yo! They argue if tolling is allowed, then when someone fails to respond, the IRS will have to sit around with their thumbs in their asses, waiting to see if these deadbeat tax-dodgers are going to ask for equitable tolling. The IRS would much rather be stealing money out of these fuckers’ bank accounts than engaging in some thumb ass play, as appealing as that might sound.

In a unanimous decision, siding with Boechler, SCOTUS told the IRS that while their argument was wildly creative, they’re basically a bunch of fucking idiots. Apparently, SCOTUS are no fans of the IRS, nor the 8th and 9th circuit of appeals.

They argued that the law in question could have been written by congress in such a way as to make it clear who has jurisdiction over these time bars, and congress didn’t. The idea that the statute above somehow means that the tax court can’t opine on whether equitable tolling is warranted, is absurd. When they wrote “Such matter” into the clause giving the tax court jurisdiction, they could have excluded the time limit, and they didn’t. So “Such matter” can and should include the time limit.

SCOTUS is apparently not much of a fan of those lazy fucks in congress either, because this ruling basically says that going forward, if congress wants to limit who has jurisdiction to apply equitable tolling, they had better fucking do so explicitly, otherwise all the courts who have jurisdiction to hear the case, can consider equitable tolling. When they use ambiguous terms such as “Such matter” they leave their laws open to interpretations they may not have intended, and thus we’re sick of having to sort their shitty laws that appear to have been written by a fucking twelve year old out.

Part of their argument also seems to be that equitable tolling is an important part of judicial review. As such, it must be the default position that courts may consider tolling, until congress specifically writes otherwise, for whatever dumb fucking reasons they can think of.

Maybe the IRS will be a little more efficient now, too. Since they won’t have to do any more crazy cross-referencing.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Badgerow v. Walters

Denise Badgerow worked as a financial advisor for REJ properties, run in part by the respondent Greg Walters, in Louisiana. As a condition of her employment, she agreed to arbitration for any disputes with the three principals of her employer (including Walters), but not her employer itself.

Eventually, after a couple years, she was fired. She claims it’s because she was a woman, which is kinda odd, since they presumably knew this when they hired her. But she also claims they were engaging in securities fraud, and she blew the whistle on that shit.

Badgerow was persistent as hell, going to the EEOC to complain about their gender discrimination, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to complain about their business practices, and a federal district court.

All three of them found Badgerow to be out of line, and a bit burdensome, dismissing all her claims entirely and ordering her to arbitration as she agreed to. Her employer asked the federal court to confirm the decisions. While that was going on, Badgerow sued the three principals of the company in state court, saying the decision they got was obtained by fraud.

This has to be the most confusing, and boring case I’ve ever read, bar none. But essentially, SCOTUS is being asked if the federal courts have jurisdiction to rule on an arbitration award, just because a federal question was in play. The question being, in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), it gives federal courts jurisdiction to hear a case if the matter at hand is a federal issue, which this isn’t. However, if they’re merely confirming, vacating, or modifying a previous ruling, no such jurisdictional issue is mentioned.

In an older SCOTUS case, Vaden v. Discover Bank, the court ruled that a federal court may “look through” an arbitration petition, to see if the beef the two parties have, is even their jurisdiction. So that’s what the federal court did. They “looked through” this case, and decided they did have jurisdiction, despite the fact that the issue was not a confirm/vacate/modify (CVM) issue.

See, pretty fucking boring, right?

In an 8:1 decision, where only justice Breyer dissented, SCOTUS determined the federal courts do not have jurisdiction because the jurisdictional rule isn’t in the section of the FAA regarding CVM issues.

Justice Breyer, the retiring curmudgeon, felt that going so literal with the FAA’s wording, is overly complex and confusing, apparently being a big friend of the federal courts.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here