ATTORNEYS: IRS REGULATIONS MAY PUT AMERICANS' FREE SPEECH IN JEOPARDY
NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
December 2, 2013
© 2013 NewsWithViews.com
A public-interest law center, currently representing 41 organizations in a federal lawsuit challenging the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), said on Tuesday that the new regulations proposed by the IRS aimed at tax-exempt organizations places the free speech rights of Americans at even greater risk.
The Internal Revenue Service’s notification, released on Nov. 26, 2013 states in part:
“The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today will issue initial guidance regarding qualification requirements for tax-exemption as a social welfare organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. This proposed guidance defines the term "candidate-related political activity," and would amend current regulations by indicating that the promotion of social welfare does not include this type of activity. The proposed guidance also seeks initial comments on other aspects of the qualification requirements, including what proportion of a 501(c)(4) organization's activities must promote social welfare.”
"These proposed new regulations put the First Amendment rights of Americans at even greater risk," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
"This is a feeble attempt by the Obama Administration to justify its own wrong-doing with the IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups. Instead of holding those responsible for the unlawful targeting scheme accountable for their actions, the Obama Administration is determined to further limit the free speech of Americans by attempting to change constitutional practices that are decades old. With this move, the Obama Administration opens a new front in its war against political dissent. We will file comments with the IRS opposing these new regulations," Sekulow said.
Besides being a veteran constitutional attorney who has argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Sekulow is also a frequent Fox News legal analyst.
In October of this year, the ACLJ expanded its federal suit, filing a second amended lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., adding additional defendants – including top IRS political appointees – an additional claim, and evidence that reveals a politically-motivated attack on conservative organizations by the IRS. It basically asserts that officials with the IRS are perpetrating a secret and illegal targeting campaign aimed at the organizations because of their political beliefs.
The ACLJ suit is not the only legal action against Obama’s IRS and its officials. Talk show host and former chief of staff for the Reagan Justice Department, Mark Levin, is also taking the IRS to task for its alleged illegal actions against conservative organizations through his Landmark Legal Foundation, according to an Examiner news story.
The ACLJ argues that President Barack Obama, along with Congressional Democrats, created a climate of hostility toward Tea Party and conservative groups making it impossible for the ACLJ's clients to exercise their First Amendment freedoms. The ACLJ contends that the hostile climate set the stage for the unprecedented illegal targeting by the IRS.
"Today's development does nothing to alter our lawsuit on behalf of 41 organizations challenging the IRS," said Sekulow. "We continue to move forward with our legal challenge. For those clients who have been in limbo for as long as three years waiting for the IRS to act on their tax-exempt applications, this development is disturbing and unacceptable. The IRS is now attempting to change the rules to further restrict their free speech even before it acts on pending applications."
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The ACLJ represents 41 organizations in 22 states. Of the 41 groups, 22 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 12 are still pending, 5 withdrew applications because of the frustration with the IRS process, and 2 had their files closed by the IRS after refusing to answer the unconstitutional requests for more information, according to officials with ACLJ.
“For many months now, the Obama Administration has repeatedly stated that federal investigators are conducting a probe into the IRS targeting scheme. However, to date, not one of our clients has been contacted by the FBI or any other federal investigative body,” claims Sekulow.
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