Government & Politics

IRS Meets Some Justice

The Sixth Circuit rebukes the agency's stonewalling.

Robin Smith · Mar. 28, 2016
The infamous Lois Lerner

The Internal Revenue Service long has been exposed in its overtly political and sleazy maneuvering, but little has been done thus far to hold rogue bureaucrats to account. Fortunately, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals took a step toward halting the deny-delay-and-destroy tactics of this government agency.

One-thousand fifty-four. That’s the number of days the IRS has successfully dodged cooperation with an ongoing investigation. For just shy of three years, Barack Obama’s weaponized tax-collecting agency has fought to hide data being sought by conservative groups the IRS targeted in the 2012 election cycle. Specifically, the IRS petitioned for a writ of mandamus to block the discovery efforts of the plaintiffs.

But the Sixth Circuit has ordered that the taxpayer-funded agency immediately turn over requested information about its activity. Writing for the unanimous three-judge appellate panel, Judge Raymond Kethledge noted that mandamus is “an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court.” In other words, the offense was greeted with a flat denial of the IRS’s petition.

The Court’s response begins: “Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views. No citizen — Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian — should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds. Yet those are the grounds on which the plaintiffs allege they were mistreated by the IRS here. The allegations are substantial: most are drawn from findings made by the Treasury Department’s own Inspector General for Tax Administration.”

The Cincinnati-based three-judge appeals panel charged with this matter has lost patience with the legal representation of the IRS. And who represents the IRS in this lawsuit that’s clearly being avoided only through the lack of cooperation? None other than the Obama Justice Department.

Judge Kethledge authored the decision and wrote that the Justice Dept. lawyers “have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws — all of them, not just selective ones — in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition. We expect that the IRS will do better going forward.”

Back in 2010, the IRS began applying more scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status. These groups ranged from Tea Party organizations to traditional marriage groups and included a pro-Israel organization. Clearly, each of these were deemed threats to Obama’s re-election and therefore they faced demands for hundreds of pages of unnecessary documentation and bureaucracy. Being placed on a so-called BOLO (be on the lookout) list forced these special onerous criteria on the right-leaning groups only.

It’s this BOLO list sought by the plaintiffs in U.S. v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots in order to move forward with a January ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott, who certified the case as a class-action lawsuit. There is, indeed, legal standing given that the IRS did systematically target hundreds of conservative groups through illegal activity.

The IRS and its DOJ legal team attempted to use the tax code to justify refusal to disclose this special list, claiming legal protection meant for taxpayers, not tax collectors.

That too was met with derision from the Sixth Circuit. Judge Kethledge condemned the IRS’s misinterpretation: “Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.”

It is finally an assurance that the Forrest Gump approach to law can be utilized — if stupid is as stupid does, then you’ll be treated as stupid. But it should be disgusting to know that Congress’s role of oversight is laughable and that the “J” in Obama’s DOJ has no relationship to Justice.

Part of President Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment included the intent to use — not the actual use of — the IRS as an agency to attack political opponents. Yet the arrogance and dismissive nature of the Obama administration never fails to plow new ground. Obama’s tyrannical approach to governing employs every available resource to defeat any who refuse to comply with his reign.

Will Americans ever again be able to trust institutions created to serve with “the consent of the governed?” That question should be answered with a resounding “Yes,” but it won’t be until an administration populated by people devoted upholding their oaths takes office.

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