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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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Courts Hand Obama Administration Two New Judicial Defeats Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, November 12 2015
Fortunately, the judiciary branch to which Obama referred in his speeches has provided some adult supervision. This week, we witnessed two important and welcome new examples.

In 2008, Barack Obama felt the need to reassure skeptical American voters that he would not behave irresponsibly or unilaterally.  He would therefore refrain, he promised, from what he characterized as the abusive practice of circumventing the legislative branch by issuing executive orders: 

"I taught constitutional law for ten years.  I take the Constitution very seriously.  The biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power to the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States of America." 

Then in 2012, desperate to win reelection, Obama rationalized four years of inaction on immigration reform by pleading powerlessness without Congressional authority: 

"With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed.  And I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard, so you know that we've got three branches of government.  Congress passes the law.  The executive branch's job is to enforce and implement those laws.  And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.  There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system, that for me to simply through executive order ignore those Congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president." 

Today, of course, we know that Obama's assurances were worth as much as the vapors on which they floated.  On everything from immigration to ObamaCare to environmental regulation, he has pioneered new realms of executive overreach. 

Fortunately, the judiciary branch to which Obama referred in his speeches has provided some adult supervision.  This week, we witnessed two important and welcome new examples. 

In New Orleans, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court injunction against the Obama Administration's November 2014 executive order granting millions of undocumented immigrants employment authorization and lawful presence.  As the Court summarized, "Of the approximately 11.3 million illegal aliens in the United States, 4.3 million would be eligible for lawful presence."  Twenty-six states sued, arguing that the maneuver violated both the Constitution and longstanding federal law.  In February of this year, the District Court agreed that the states had demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, and therefore granted an injunction. 

Brimming with its usual overconfidence, the Obama Administration appealed the district court injunction.  The Court of Appeals, however, rejected its arguments in humiliating fashion: 

"DAPA would make 4.3 million otherwise removable aliens eligible for lawful presence, employment authorization, and associated benefits, and we must be guided to a degree by common sense as to the manner in which Congress is likely to delegate a policy decision of such economic and political magnitude to an administrative agency...  The interpretation of those provisions that the Secretary advances would allow him to grant lawful presence and work authorization to any illegal alien in the United States - an untenable position in light of the INA's intricate system of immigration classifications and employment eligibility.  Even with special deference to the Secretary, the INA flatly does not permit the reclassification of millions of illegal aliens as lawfully present and thereby make them newly eligible for a host of federal and state benefits, including work authorization." 

"The district court did not err," the Court concluded, "and most assuredly did not abuse its discretion." 

Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court just granted review to a challenge brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor against a particularly bizarre ObamaCare provision. 

Despite being celibate nuns, you see, the Obama Administration continues to insist in its wisdom that the Little Sisters must adhere to ObamaCare's contraception and abortifacient mandates.  Not only does that contravene simple logic, it manifestly violates the First Amendment's protection of the free exercise of religion. 

In a similar case just last year, the Obama Administration suffered defeat in the Hobby Lobby decision.  Hopefully, the same jurisprudential logic will be extended this term to an order of nuns. 

Beyond the specific focus of this week's judicial developments, Americans weary of Obama's abuse of executive authority would do well to remember how their votes shape the judicial branch that can constrain such abuse.  In addition to multiple Supreme Court vacancies that are likely to occur during the next presidential term, the man or woman they elevate to the White House will nominate numerous judges to appellate courts like the one that just issued a humiliating new defeat to the Obama Administration over its immigration order. 

Should another liberal occupy the White House through 2021 or 2025, such checks would become increasingly rare. 

Notable Quote   
 
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
 
 
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
 
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?