(PatriotWise.com) — The US Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that penalized a Romanian-US citizen to the tune of $2.72 million for failing to file reports with the IRS. The 5-4 ruling demonstrated a surprising lack of partisanship or clear ideological lines among the Justices. On one side of the court were Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, while on the other side were Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newest addition to the bench and considered to be a liberal, joined with conservatives in the ruling and underlined the fact that the Supreme Court bench is not as easy to predict as is so often believed.
While many expect the Court to be divided down liberal versus conservative lines, the reality is that the Justices are rarely so fractured. In the 2022 term, the judges reached a unanimous conclusion on 29% of cases. In 17%, there was only one dissenting voice among the nine on the bench. That was a decrease from 46% of cases that were ruled anonymously in 2020, and 30% in 2019. According to legal experts, when the Court does not rule along partisan or ideological lines, it increases public confidence. Alex Badas, an assistant professor at the University of Houston, said, “Typically, people view the Court as less legitimate when they believe the Supreme Court is motivated by partisan politics.”
This surprising case, Bitter v US, involved a businessman who had failed to file reports with the IRS disclosing several foreign bank accounts. Alexandru Bittner had argued that he did not know he was supposed to file the reports and subsequently began doing so in upon his return from Romania in 2011. The IRS fined Mr. Bittner $2.72 million because they had based the fine on the number of bank accounts Bittner had, rather than the number of reports he should have filed. The Court found in Bittner’s favor and said the fine should have been $50,000 – $10,000 for each report he had failed to file.
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