An update on the IRS targeting scandal of 2013, courtesy of the Washington Times:
A federal appeals court slapped the IRS with yet another rebuke Friday, ruling that it did, in fact, discriminate against tea party groups and insisting the tax agency prove that it’s permanently stopped the unconstitutional targeting of groups because of their political leanings.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said tea party groups can’t sue individual IRS employees such as former senior executive Lois G. Lerner, but said the tax agency itself has not sufficiently proved that it has banned any future targeting. The three-judge panel sent the case back to a lower court for a more thorough ruling.
The IRS had insisted it “voluntarily” ceased the targeting, so the case was moot.
But Judge David B. Sentelle, writing for the appeals court, said that was clearly not the case because some organizations were still awaiting approval years after they applied. And he flatly rejected the IRS’s explanation that those groups couldn’t be processed because they were suing the IRS, calling that a classic catch-22.
“The IRS is telling the applicants in these cases that ‘we have been violating your rights and not properly processing your applications. You are entitled to have your applications processed. But if you ask for that processing by way of a lawsuit, then you can’t have it,’” Judge Sentelle wrote. “We would advise the IRS: if you haven’t ceased to violate the rights of the taxpayers, then there is no cessation. You have not carried your burden, be it heavy or light.”
The IRS didn’t have an immediate comment on the ruling Friday morning.
Hundreds of groups were subjected to the targeting, which saw the IRS pull their tax-exempt status applications out of the usual process, based on agents’ suspicions about their connection to conservative causes.
The groups then had their applications delayed while IRS agents asked probing — and potentially unconstitutional — questions about their activities.
After being caught, the IRS announced it was suspending “until further notice” its use of targeting lists to single out applications. The appeals court Friday said that suggests the IRS thinks it could restart the use of the lists. And Judge Sentelle said that doesn’t begin to scratch the other issues of long delays and unconstitutional questions asked of the groups.