Judge Reggie Walton, of U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia just issued a critical order in True the Vote v. IRS case. The order compels the IRS to submit to discovery and depositions, giving True the Vote a long-awaited opportunity to expose the full scope of the discriminatory practices used by the Internal Revenue Service to target and abuse organizations and individuals who expressed political views in opposition to the Obama Administration.
"This is a huge step forward," said TTV founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. “For years, the Internal Revenue Service has tried to cover up the role they played in suppressing True the Vote. Thanks to Judge Walton's Order, we will finally have an opportunity to expose the truth of what really happened inside the IRS offices in Cincinnati, all the way to the West Wing of the Obama White House. We want to ensure that no American will ever again be targeted for viewpoint discrimination by a weaponized government.”
“After four years of obstruction, TTV will finally be able to find out how the IRS Targeting Scheme was put together and who is responsible for it. TTV needs to find out what happened in order to ensure that advocacy groups are not targeted based on their political beliefs by the IRS,” said James Bopp, Jr., attorney for TTV.“ This may involve further orders by the District Court to remedy the IRS’s illegal conduct.” A copy of Judge Walton's Order is attached here.
Case Background: TTV originally filed its application for 501(c)(3) exemption on July 15, 2010. By that time, the IRS had already instituted a viewpoint based targeting program where conservative and Tea Party groups were purposely singled out for adverse treatment by the IRS. As the Treasury Inspector General found in its May, 2013 report, this IRS Targeting Scheme (1) selected groups for special treatment who had “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” of “9/12" in its name or who advocated conservative policy position, (2) subjected the victims to numerous inappropriate and intrusive questioning, and (3) grossly delayed the approval of their applications. When TTV filed suit, right after the Inspector General had exposed the Obama administration’s attack on conservative groups by the IRS, TTV’s charitable application had still not been granted.
Since then, the IRS has (1) refused to acknowledge, even to this day, that the IRS had unconstitutionally targeted conservative groups for adverse treatment, and (2) doggedly obstructed all attempts by TTV to conduct discovery to find out the full nature of the IRS targeting scheme, how it was put together by the Obama Administration and who was responsible for authorizing it.
The IRS’s effort to obstruct the TTV suit had temporary success in 2014 when the DC District Court dismissed the case saying that it was moot since the IRS claimed that it had stopped using “politically disfavored” names to select applicants for special scrutiny and since the IRS had approved TTV’s application.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals, however, disagreed. It held (1) that “the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits” so it is claiming mootness and (2) that the IRS had not shown that there was “on reasonable expectation that the conduct will recur,” and that subsequent events had “completely and irrevocably eradicated the effects” of the IRS’s discriminatory targeting scheme. They remanded the case to the DC District Court for a “merits disposition based on adjudication of substantive evidence.”
Once back in the District Court in the fall of 2016, the IRS again sought to obstruct TTV’s case by renewing its claim that the case was moot and should be dismissed. TTV, however, moved the District Court for discovery to ferret out the facts of the IRS Targeting Scheme that the IRS had refused to disclose since the beginning. On April 12th, the DC District Court granted TTV’s motion for discovery, permitting TTV to discover the “past acts of alleged discrimination stemming from the alleged illegal targeting scheme” to ensure that the IRS has “eradicated the effects” of its illegal targeting scheme.
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