Revolt over High Taxes? How High Is Too High, Justice Antonin Scalia?

Since a Supreme Court Justice has said it, I’m wondering when he will take follow-up questions.

According to the Washington Times,

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of law students that it might be a good idea to revolt if taxes become too high in the future.

While speaking at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Tuesday, Justice Scalia was asked by a student about his interpretation of the constitutionality of the income tax, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

The longest-serving justice currently on the bench answered the student by saying that the government has the constitutional right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”

Justice Scalia continued to tell the students that they have every right to express criticism of the government.

“You’re entitled to criticize the government, and you can use words, you can use symbols, you can use telegraph, you can use Morse code, you can burn a flag,” he said, according to the News Sentinel.

“If it reaches a certain point”? Where is that point?

In the Biblical book of First Samuel you can read how the prophet Samuel warned Israel about the dangers of choosing to be ruled by a king like the other nations around them.

He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:15-18 ESV)

So as far as the prophet was concerned, a nation learns that one should never have established a regime the day when that regime demands a whole ten percent of your income.

I’m not saying that it is necessarily a good idea to revolt when that number is exceeded. After all, how do you know your new government will be better than the old one? Revolutions tend to foster exactly the opposite sort of change.

But if we’re looking for the number that should start us thinking about it, I think ten percent makes a lot of sense.