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Week in Review: Remembering Barbara Culver Van Sittert, A Champion for Liberty

July 17, 2021

Liberty lost a champion this week with the sad passing of Dr. Barbara Culver Van Sittert of Phoenix, Arizona. Barbara was a dear friend of the Goldwater Institute and will surely be missed by all of us. We extend our sincere condolences to Barbara’s family and friends.

Born on December 14, 1935, in Panora, Iowa, Barbara attended Iowa State University where she earned a double major in English and Chemistry. Upon graduation in 1957, Barbara married her college sweetheart, Logan Van Sittert, and the young couple moved to Phoenix where Logan began his architectural practice. Following their move west, a son, Todd, was born. 

After earning a Doctor of Philosophy at Arizona State University, Barbara devoted her professional life to students and colleagues at Phoenix College, where she joined the faculty as an English professor and worked until her retirement in 1998. 

Barbara and her husband Logan were true patriots and constitutionalists who recognized an urgent need for voices dedicated to promoting liberty and free thought. In what is the largest gift in the Goldwater Institute’s history, Barbara and Logan established the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy, a permanent center to defend our founding principles and instill those values into the next generation of Americans. Upon launching the center, Barbara reflected on why this cause is so important to her and what she hopes the Center will accomplish: 

“I was born and brought up on a 200-acre Iowa farm during the Great Depression and World War II,” Barbara recalled. “When my dad graduated from agriculture college in 1931, the job waiting for him was gone, so he returned to farming to support our family. My mom tended the orchard, planted the garden, and canned our food. They made a good life through hard work and initiative in a country where they were free to succeed. Those are the principles Logan and I want to uphold well into the future, and I can think of no better place than the Goldwater Institute to do it.”

All of us at the Goldwater Institute are forever thankful for Barbara and Logan’s friendship, kindness, and generosity. In their memory, we pledge to carry out the fight for freedom that was so dear to their hearts.

Guns Aren’t Games: Goldwater Takes Aim at Shooting Range Tax

There’s a big difference between a circus and a shooting range, but not in the eyes of the Arizona Department of Revenue, which is redefining reality in an attempt to expand its authority to tax businesses in the state. The Goldwater Institute is taking aim at this tax grab and urging the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn the Department’s efforts.

In Arizona, “places of amusement” like circuses and bowling alleys historically have been taxed at a higher rate. But recently, the state Department of Revenue re-labeled shooting ranges—where people go to practice self-defense—as “places of amusement” for purposes of tax law. In a decision issued in April, the state Court of Appeals ruled that firing ranges fall under the “amusement” classification because they are “comparable” to “amusement parks.” That meant Shooter’s World—a combination gun store and firing range in Phoenix—had been under-reporting its taxes for years.

But as Goldwater argues in its friend of the court brief, shooting ranges aren’t normally regarded as places of “amusement.” They’re places people go to learn and practice a potentially dangerous skill. And that’s an important distinction. By interpreting the state’s tax laws so broadly, the lower court judges didn’t just stretch the tax power beyond what the people’s elected representatives authorized, but also intruded on the individual’s right to practice self-defense.

Read more about this case on the In Defense of Liberty blog.

Podcast: Yes, There Are Real Solutions to Improve Healthcare.

Nationalization of America’s healthcare system is back on the agenda in Washington as 111 members of Congress have formally introduced legislation to create Medicare for All. The complete federal takeover of healthcare inevitably would stifle innovation and limit lifesaving options for every American.

But there are real solutions out there to improve healthcare quality, access, and affordability—solutions that focus on dismantling government obstacles and putting cutting-edge medical discoveries quickly into the hands of doctors and patients.

At a recent event, Pacific Research Institute President and CEO Sally Pipes and Goldwater Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez led a discussion of these real solutions and how they point to a bright healthcare future for America. You can listen to the full event here.



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