Chris Moore-Backman Asks Court to Legalize War Tax Refusal

Chris Moore-Backman is a Quaker war tax resister and the plaintiff in a case that is trying to convince the Arizona federal district court, and eventually the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, to declare that a right to legal conscientious objection to military taxation is implicitly guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of .

If he can do this, there will be a district court split on the issue (two other district courts of appeals have turned down similar arguments), which would increase the likelihood that the United States Supreme Court would take up the case. If the Supreme Court did so, it might decide in such a way as to make conscientious objection to military taxation legal in the United States. Congress would then either have to enact some sort of scheme to accommodate such conscientious objection, or it would have to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that it no longer covered conscientious objection to military taxation.

That is to say that the case is a long-shot and that even if it succeeds, it could easily wind up being a hollow victory. Still, sometimes long odds just make the bet more attractive.

You can read the legal arguments that both sides have presented thus far on-line.

Moore-Backman is also trying to reinvigorate the Quaker tradition of war tax refusal. he spoke at the San Francisco Friends Meeting about his case, about Quaker war tax resistance, and about the “double life” that many modern Quakers lead in which they give lip service to the peace testimony while taking comfort instead in a safely conventional lifestyle. There were about 18 people in attendance, most of whom were either present war tax resisters, past war tax resisters looking to get back into it, or people hoping to learn how to become war tax resisters. Plans were discussed to create an ongoing discussion and mutual support group centered on war tax resistance within the Meeting.