The Internal Revenue Service appears to have come up with an ingenious way to avoid being held accountable for unfairly targeting tea party and other conservative groups for additional scrutiny.
Give them what they wanted and look for a little cooperation from the bench.
A federal judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, threw out two lawsuits by more than 40 conservative organizations, including True the Vote, saying no remedy was required because the agency granted the groups the tax-exempt status they originally sought, according to The New York Times.
“The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax-exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff,” U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled Thursday. “Unless an actual, ongoing controversy exists in this case, this court is without power to decide it.”
Not surprisingly, many in the media are billing the dismissals as a “tea party loss.”
“We are stunned by today’s judgment,” True the Vote founder and president Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement. “The notion that the I.R.S. can target Americans for years because of their political beliefs is reprehensible.”
True the Vote and other groups waited three years before the IRS approved their tax-exempt status.
“The decision by the court is disappointing,” said attorney Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented some of the plaintiffs. “However, it does not deter our efforts to seek justice for our clients. We are reviewing the decision and plan to appeal.”
The groups told the court there is no guarantee the IRS would not target conservative groups again, but Walton ruled that the “prospect of future harm is speculative,” according to The Daily Signal.
But Heritage legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky disagreed.
“Given the unapologetic behavior of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials, and their total lack of remorse, I don’t think it’s ‘speculative’ that this could happen again in the future,” he told The Daily Signal.
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