FREE SPEECH VIOLATED: Tea party groups' lawsuit against IRS proceeds
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/20/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
They're not going to take it - and they're taking their claims to court. A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit by 10 tea party groups to move forward against the Internal Revenue Service. The judge rejected a request by the federal government to dismiss all the allegations. At stake, the tea party groups allege, is their freedom of speech and freedom from unnecessary and unwarranted discrimination and harassment.
Among the individuals named in the lawsuit is Lois Lerner, who headed the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status at that time.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Judge Susan Dlott in her ruling last week allowed two of the tea party groups' claims that the IRS discriminated and retaliated against them based on their views in violation of their free speech rights to be presented in the forthcoming trial.
However, Dlott did dismiss a third claim, ruling the tea party groups could not pursue allegations of privacy violations on behalf of their individual members. Dlott says that the individuals themselves have to do that, she said.
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"If the government is right in this case, it means that from now on, no matter who the president is, the IRS can pick out a group of people that disagrees with the president and pull those people out, delay them, harass them, target them, and there's nothing anyone can do about it," Edward Greim, the lead attorney for the tea party groups, said.
"And our position is very simple: That cannot be true and that's not the republic that we live in."
Greim said he was planning on appealing a portion of Dlott's ruling that won't allow the tea party groups to seek damages from individual IRS employees.
"When an officer of the federal government does something that's unconstitutional and they do it with the right level of intent - and we think the evidence here establishes that these individuals did - we think they should be held to answer for their conduct," Greim said.
Among the individuals named in the lawsuit is Lois Lerner, who headed the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status at that time. The IRS has acknowledged that agents improperly scrutinized applications from tea party and other conservative groups. Lerner twice refused to answer questions at congressional hearings about the matter, invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination.
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