Archive | Tea Party

Congressional Inquiry of IRS Targeting of Israel Groups

Congress’s inquiry into IRS abuses has now expanded beyond the hounding of domestic-policy conservative groups to Israel related ones. In a letter today the Chairman and minority leader of the Ways and Means Committee demand information on whether the agency “undertook special reviews of organizations whose missions involve Israel” and whose activities “contradict or are inconsistent with the Administration’s policies.” Will this be within the scope of the Justice Department investigation?

Again, if the IRS did so, it was only doing what the New York Times (and Peace Now and J Street) told it to.

The Acting Commissioner appears for a hearing on Friday (after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot). […]

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The Media Push for IRS Action Against Pro-Israel Groups

In addition to the IRS’s particular interest in right-wing groups focussed on domestic policy, it has taken an unusual interest in right-wing pro-Israel groups. (I am friends with the leader of the group written about in the link.)

One major question raised by the IRS scandal is where these ideas came from. At least as far as Jewish groups go, the IRS scrutiny is not a fluke. That is not to suggest it was ordered by the White House – that is highly unlikely. At the same time, it certainly does not come out of the blue. The past several years have seen a concerted campaign in the mainstream liberal press to bring the IRS down upon certain pro-Israel groups, particularly those that support activities in the West Bank (or the Territories Formerly Occupied By Jordan).

For example, in 2009 David Ignatius had a story in the Washington Post, A Tax Break Fuels Middle East Friction. “Critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns,” he wrote. The Guardian in 2009 also had a piece calling for IRS action.

In 2010, the New York Times continued the theme with a massive, expose-style front page story, which concluded that while such tax breaks do not seem to be exactly illegal, it creates :a surprising juxtaposition: As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.” The article then tried to raise questions about whether such groups really satisfied U.S. tax-deductible requirements, suggesting the IRS should look into them. The activities the supported, the Times article suggests, were illegal and extremist.

Picking […]

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IRS Admits Targeting “Tea Party” Groups

Some conservative and libertarian groups have long suspected that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted right-leaning non-profits for extra scrutiny, but such allegations were always difficult to prove (and often sounded a bit conspiratorial).  Now, however, the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations has admitted her division targeted “tea party” and “patriot” groups — and apologized for it.  In addition, the IRS apparently asked some groups for donor lists, even though such requests are usually contrary to IRS policy.  (Hat tip: Rick Hasen, whose first comment was”Wow.”)  As they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.

UPDATE: The New York Times offers a decidedly different view. [To be fair, this editorial is from last year.]

SECOND UPDATE: Hasen has posted the IRS statement. “Mistakes were made.”  Hasen comments: “This is not one of the best days for the IRS.  Conservatives are absolutely right to call for a congressional investigation of this one, even if it turns out to be an isolated problem.”

THIRD UPDATE: Here are excerpts from some of the relevant  document requests, and a Congressional inquiry about some of these requests from last year. […]

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AALS Hot Topics Panels I Will be Speaking at this Week

For those who may be interested, I will be speaking at two “Hot Topics” panels at this week’s AALS faculty conference, both on Thursday, January 6.

The first will be on “Ideological Diversity and Discrimination in American Law Schools,” along with John McGinnis (Northwestern), Bill Nelson (NYU), James Phillips (UC Berkeley), and panel organizer George Dent (Case Western). It will be held in Room Yosemite C on the ballroom level of the San Francisco Hilton from 8:30 AM to 10:15.

McGinnis, Nelson, and Phillips have all written important articles on the issue of ideological diversity in academia, and I have blogged and written about related issues myself (e.g. here, here, here, and here).

The topic of the second is “The Constitutional Politics of the Tea Party Movement.” I will be joined by co-blogger Randy Barnett (Georgetown), Jared Goldstein (Roger Williams), Sanford Levinson (Texas, Balkinization), Nathaniel Persily (Columbia, Balkinization), and panel organizer Richard Albert (Boston College). Note the presence of numerous legal bloggers on this panel. It will be held from 10:30 AM to 12:15 in Yosemite A, Ballroom Level, also at the Hilton.

Sandy Levinson and I debated some related issues pertaining to constitutional reform here. Sandy also recently issued a challenge to the Volokh Conspiracy that I answered here and here.

Both panels are timely and feature a wide range of viewpoints (as well as a wide range of bloggers). I look forward to seeing some of our readers there. […]

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A Question About Tea Party Politics

Who are the “Tea Party”-backed candidates who are not social conservatives? I realized that it can be hard to identify who exactly is a Tea-Party backed candidate. But it seems to me that most or all of the major candidates associated with the Tea-Party movement are social conservatives. Are there any exceptions, and if so, who are they?

UPDATE: In response to the question of what makes someone a social conservative, I’m thinking the most widely-accepted reference points would be (a) positions on abortion — pro-life vs. pro-choice, both generally and in cases of incest/rape, (b) positions on stem cell research; (c) gay rights issues, both civil union and gay marriage and amending the U.S. Constitution to prohibit gay marriage, and (d) positions on enforcing vice crime laws, like obscenity, gambling, and drugs.

Other possible reference points would be (e) positions on immigration law and policy, and (f) positions on guns and gun control. These aren’t exactly social issues but they’re arguably not exactly traditional economic liberty questions, so they may or may not fit depending on how you define things. […]

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