At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal…
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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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Climate Alarmists Finding Themselves on the Other End of Judicial System Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 23 2016
Until such time as legal reform toward the English Rule arrives, however, private businesses as well as conservative, libertarian and free-market organizations should use the judicial system to proactively vindicate their rights...

Throughout my legal career, I've always favored what is known as the "English Rule," meaning that losing litigants should generally be required to pay the winning parties' fees and costs. 

Under our current "American Rule," in contrast, each side generally pays its own fees and costs, win or lose.  That has always struck me as inequitable, because a party forced to spend its valuable time, money and other resources should be left in no worse position for having to vindicate what proved to be the superior legal position.  If you're minding your own business and someone hauls you into court, why should you have to pay for the trouble of establishing that you were right all along? 

The typical argument in support of the American Rule is that judicial policy shouldn't discourage court access.  But given today's realities, does any rational person outside of the trial lawyers' guild contend that America's judicial system suffers too few lawsuits rather than too many lawsuits? 

Until such time as legal reform toward the English Rule arrives, however, private businesses as well as conservative, libertarian and free-market organizations should use the judicial system to proactively vindicate their rights, rather than continue to play defense at the mercy of overly litigious liberal groups and abusive government officials who seek to silence debate on everything from climate hysteria to Second Amendment rights. 

In that regard, there's refreshing news on several judicial fronts. 

Let's start with the high-profile global warming persecution commenced by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker.  In their lawless climate crusade, they sued Exxon and even demanded confidential donor names, emails and other internal records from free-market nonprofit organizations like Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). 

Well, CEI is rightfully fighting fire with fire. 

In addition to placing newspaper ads exposing Schneiderman and Walker, it countersued under a federal statute protecting free speech rights against malicious lawsuits attempting censorship, and seeks attorneys' fees and costs for their trouble.  Confronted with CEI's unexpected counterattack, Mr. Walker attempted to slink away last month by withdrawing the subpoena.  Then this month, Mr. Walker pleaded with the court to deny CEI's motion for sanctions and fees, hypocritically claiming that CEI's countersuit has "wasted enough of this office's and the Court's limited time and resources with its frivolous Anti-SLAPP motion." 

No, Mr. Walker, what was frivolous was your initial lawsuit.  You can't now be heard to complain when your intended victims merely seek remedy for their time, money and trouble. 

In an equally encouraging public move, thirteen Republican state Attorneys General (from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin) have decided that two sides can potentially play the climate change fraud lawsuit game.  Specifically, they point out that if private businesses and organizations can be targeted for allegedly minimizing climate change risks, then groups on the opposite side of the debate can similarly be prosecuted for potentially exaggerating climate change and its risks: 

[T]his fraud investigation targets only 'fossil fuel companies' and only statements minimizing climate change risks.  If it is possible to minimize the risks of climate change, then the same goes for exaggeration.  If minimization is a fraud, exaggeration is a fraud...  If climate change is perceived to be slowing or becoming less of a risk, many 'clean energy' companies may become less valuable and some may be altogether worthless.  Therefore, any fraud theory requiring more disclosure from Exxon would surely require more disclosure by 'clean energy' companies. 

Similarly, it has been asserted that 'fossil fuel companies' may have funded nonprofits who minimized the risks of climate change.  Does anyone doubt that 'clean energy' companies have funded non-profits who exaggerated the risks of climate change?  Under the stated theory for fraud, consumers and investors could suffer harm from misstatements by all energy-market participants and the non-profits they support.  Yet only companies and non-profits allegedly espousing a particular viewpoint have been chosen for investigation. 

In other words, climate alarmists are subject to the same prosecution that they seek to impose on others. 

Finally, the Canadian company Resolute Forest Products is to be applauded for suing Greenpeace for defamation, conspiracy, racketeering and other stated offenses.  According to Resolute's pleadings, Greenpeace "has published staged photos and video falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas and others purporting to show forest areas impacted by Resolute harvesting when the areas depicted were actually impacted by fire or other natural causes." 

But that may not be the worst of it.  Resolute also alleges racketeering and conspiracy: 

Greenpeace and others working with it have aggressively targeted Resolute's customers with extortive threats and other illegal conduct.  To identify those customers, Greenpeace employees and agents have impersonated Resolute employees, its customers, and others to illegally misappropriate proprietary customer and supply chain information. 

If those allegations are true, then Greenpeace deserves to suffer the harshest legal consequences available. 

Either way, these are encouraging developments.  Too often through the years, conservatives and libertarians have played defense and merely hoped to survive meritless litigation from leftists groups exploiting our judicial system. 

Today, they're using the left's own tactics to fight back, and it's about time. 

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?