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Radio interview
Alan Keyes on Jerry Johnson Live (KCBI)
March 16, 2006
Washington, D.C.

DR. JERRY JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF CRISWELL COLLEGE, HOST: Ambassador Alan Keyes was appointed by Ronald Reagan to serve as a U.N. ambassador, and Dr. Keyes has a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He served eleven years in the State Department. He served as Assistant Secretary of State. And he's a two-time presidential candidate and a former Senate candidate. Welcome to the program, Dr. Keyes.

ALAN KEYES: Glad to be with you. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Dr. Keyes, in thirty days, everybody's going to be sending in their income taxes, or they should, or maybe they should. I have a very unusual question. Do you believe the income tax, as we know it today, is constitutional?

KEYES: Well, actually, I believe it isn't, on two grounds. I don't think you can judge something to be constitutional when the only way that you can implement it is by violating a constitutional right. And, of course, the right I'm referring to is the fact that under the Constitution, we cannot be obliged to provide incriminating testimony against ourselves. Right?


KEYES: And yet, when you fill out your income tax form, you're providing information that can and often is used against people to prosecute them for various things. And of course if you read the law, they tried to get around what they knew to be the constitutional difficulty by saying that the basis of the system is voluntary compliance. But the use of the word voluntary has to be strict, and so it has no meaning whatsoever to suggest that compliance with the present income tax system is somehow voluntary for our citizens.

So I think on that grounds, on the face of it, the income tax is in conflict with the Constitution of the United States. Now, there are also people whom I've met over the years who argue that it was not properly ratified in any case. And that is something that I think could be verified if one ever got an administration that was willing to look at the historical record and actually see what really happened.

JOHNSON: Dr. Keyes, would you support a flat tax or a so-called Fair Tax? What do you think would be the best approach?

KEYES: Well, I think the best thing to do would be to return to the logic of our Founding Fathers, who, in the early years of the Republic, before the 1912 law that imposed the income tax, or the amendment that allowed the income tax, the Constitution actually was written in such a way that there could be no federal income tax, and the federal government lived off of excise taxes (which were basically in the form of what we would call sales taxes on different items), and of course off the levies that were imposed on foreign products coming from abroad (what we would call tariffs), and that combination funded the government.

I think that the proposal made by people like the Fair Tax movement would go a long way toward alleviating a two-fold problem. One, the unconstitutional burden that the income tax places on the sovereign people of the United States, by handing control of our resource base over to the government, and I think that that's a serious problem. And two, the fact that the income tax actually penalizes people when they go out, work hard, and try to make a living, so that it discourages savings--which may be one of the reasons why we have one of the lowest savings rates of any population in the world.

JOHSON: I'm talking to Dr. Alan Keyes. He served as an ambassador to the United Nations under President Reagan.

Dr. Keyes, another flash-point issue. Is abortion really a constitutional right?

KEYES: I, frankly, don't see how it can be.

And I am very pleased--I know that there are some people who are nominally part of the pro-life movement who think that what happened in South Dakota is a bad thing, where the legislature has passed a law to protect unborn children from abortion, and has done so leaving only, I think, a possibility that if the actual physical life of the mother is threatened, then something can be done to save her life, with the view to saving her life, not with the view of taking the life of the child.

I think that if you look at the Constitution, Blackmun wrote Roe vs. Wade as if there was no guidance in the Constitution as to whether the child in the womb is a person or not. Right?


KEYES: And if you look at the decision, he actually says that if that child in the womb is to be treated as a person, then any right to abort that child falls away; has no ground or basis. So he pretended he has to look at philosophers, and he had to look at this and that law and international practice--everything under the sun. He didn't bother to look at the Constitution itself, where, right in the preamble, what does it say? That the overall aim of the whole frame of government in America is "to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

Who are our posterity? Those who come after us who are not yet born. Yes?

JOHNSON: Uh-huh.

KEYES: Those who will come after us, including the generations yet unborn. That means that the Constitution puts the unborn on an equal plane with ourselves, and it was inexcusable that Blackmun pretended that there was no guide in the Constitution.

And the preamble, by the way, is used in precisely this way, in terms of deciding whether this or that interpretation of the Constitution should be the one that we follow. The one that is consistent with the goals laid out in the preamble is the one that is supposed to get preference.

So why didn't we even consider what the preamble had to say about the status of our posterity? It's an inexcusable, obvious kind of betrayal, really, of the document and of its clear, explicit wording--and he didn't even bother to look at it.


What do you predict on this partial-birth abortion ban, with the Supreme Court?

KEYES: I guess I'm not sure. I am not sure. The present make-up of the Court is such that we probably have a reliable four votes, right, to support the partial-birth abortion ban and even to overturn Roe, itself. But there is still the question of that critical fifth vote that is not yet there in a reliable way, and I'm not sure how that will turn out.

I think we have actually one more battle to fight before there is a reasonable hope that the court can be relied upon to respect the clear rights of our posterity.

JOHNSON: You're listening to Jerry Johnson Live. I'm talking to Dr. Alan Keyes, a former ambassador to the United Nations, appointed by President Reagan. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University.

Dr. Keyes, I've about one minute left. What do you think about this move for homosexual marriage, homosexual unions? What do you make of this?

KEYES: Well, I think it's actually a move that is aimed at destroying the family, because if we redefine marriage in such a way that it is no longer even in principle connected with procreation, then the rationale for the state's respect for the authority of parents and the other things that are involved in the maintenance of the natural family falls to the ground.

And that means that there is no basis in fact for the claim that has been part of our heritage since the beginning, that the family has certain rights that the government must respect--rights that are anterior to, prior to, the establishment even of civil society, because the family is a primordial and natural institution that comes to us from the hands of God, and therefore it is one of those unalienable rights. It falls in that category, and must be respected by government.

So, parental authority, the obligation of parents to children, and so forth--these are things that society is obliged to safeguard and respect as part of that sort of treasure of unalienable rights which come to us from the hand of God.

We are now turning this into something that can be decided by the fiat and whim of the state, and that destroys its transcendent status. And I think it poses a great danger to the whole idea of family life, because without proper governmental respect for parental authority, we could end up in the socialist situation, where government claims the right to take our children away, and we can't do anything about it.

JOHNSON: Thank you so much, Dr. Keyes. Alan Keyes, a former ambassador to the United Nations, thank you so much.

KEYES: You're welcome.

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