Overlawyered gets a mention today in a New York Post editorial today, but the greater credit should go to Prof. Larry Tribe for his willingness to be swayed by the evidence on the Internal Revenue Service targeting controversy (earlier). In a Cato post largely adapted from previous coverage here, I note in a P.S.: “If word of the D.C. Circuit panel decision has not gotten around as widely as it should, one reason is that some major news organizations have still, nearly three weeks later, not seen fit to cover it.”
- Ingenious tactic to get bad review off search engines: arrange and win a pretend lawsuit in some other state [Paul Alan Levy, more: followup]
- Law professor proposes to give out tax breaks based on race. Constitutional problems with that? [Caron/TaxProf]
- $2,250 for the legal right to thread existing barrels: presidential order expands definition of “manufacturer” under arms treaty, which leaves some gunsmiths nervous [The Truth About Guns]
- Political corner: Michael Greve reacts to Jonathan Rauch’s Atlantic article, “How Did Our Politics Go Insane?” [Liberty and Law] And for those following my commentary about the Gary Johnson campaign (see earlier), I’ve got a piece at Cato on his rocky relations with conservatives as well as a letter to the editor at the Baltimore Sun;
- On Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book, The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians [Carla Main, City Journal; Chris Edwards]
- But which way would the causation run? Econometric analysis finds “EU membership is positively associated with economic freedom.” [EPI Center] Will Brexit promote freer outcomes in areas like agricultural subsidy, or simply a return to national protection? [Simon Lester, Cato]
Yesterday Harvard law professor Larry Tribe sent out a tweet brusquely dismissing the IRS targeting episode as a debunked non-scandal. I and others promptly took issue with him, and pointed him toward the August 5 D.C. Circuit opinion laying out the scandal’s genuineness. (I also referenced my Ricochet article summarizing the decision and citing the Inspector General report from Treasury.)
@walterolson I confess error wrt IRS ideological targeting. The IG report and the CADC panel decision seem right to me. Inexcusable abuse.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 18, 2016
I have on occasion had my differences with Prof. Tribe’s views, but what an honorable example he sets here. May all of us prove equally ready to re-examine our own views when challenged.
Yesterday, in a major ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rebuked the IRS over its targeting of conservative groups and said that it would have to face a lawsuit by two plaintiffs, reversing a lower court that had declared the dispute moot. The unanimous three-judge panel ruled that there is “little factual dispute” in the case and it is “plain…that the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits,” that the wrongdoing included not only targeting itself but massively burdensome and intrusive examinations of targeted groups, and that despite the IRS’s claims to have ended the discriminatory treatment, there is evidence that it continues today. My new piece at Ricochet explains.
Sarah Westwood in the Washington Examiner also quotes me on the case: “This is a blistering rebuke to the IRS and its defenders.” Remember in June when the Washington Post ran an editorial dismissing this all as not much of a scandal? Here was my response then.
P.S. Kim Strassel passes the following along in her much-talked-about new book, The Intimidation Game: “So, yes, the president was saying—two months after the news broke—that the whole IRS thing was just a ‘phony scandal.’”
Since the 1950s, a provision of federal tax law championed by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson has provided that 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, charities, and other sorts of non-profits, endanger their tax-exempt status if too much of their activity is devoted to supporting or opposing candidates for office. Some churches and conservative groups have campaigned to relax or repeal this rule, an idea now endorsed by presidential candidate Donald Trump. Paul Caron at TaxProf has a link roundup. More: Benjamin Leff.
That Friday tale from the Washington, D.C. Metro system was just the start. “The North Miami police officer who shot an unarmed, black mental health worker caring for a patient actually took aim at the autistic man next to him, but missed, the head of the police union said Thursday.” [Miami Herald] Meanwhile, in Oregon, a gross-receipts tax proposal backed by public employee unions and schools lobby could spell the end for Powell’s Books of Portland. [Interview with Emily Powell on Measure 97, Business Tribune]
The Washington Post has published my letter to the editor responding to an editorial that had depicted the Internal Revenue Service targeting episode as merely the “thoughtless” result of “carelessness” and “incompetence.” Yet the scandal wasn’t just the flagging of right-of-center (c)(4) groups for challenge not faced by their left-of-center counterparts, but the outrageous information demands placed on many of those groups, including copies of all literature distributed, transcripts of speeches and radio guest appearances, printouts of all social media output, names of both donors and family members, and more.
Earlier coverage here.
- Trying to pressure banks to cease tax refund anticipation lending, FDIC staff crossed several lines of impropriety [inspector general executive summary via Kevin Funnell]
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, class action lawyers’ best friend, aims to suppress arbitration [WSJ, The Hill, earlier here, here, here]
- When CEOs campaign for their view of social justice, do they disserve shareholders’ interest? To the point of incurring liability? [Kevin LaCroix]
- “Insider Trading: The Unknowable Crime” [Thaya Brook Knight and Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus brief in Salman v. U.S.]
- “The Number of Publicly Traded Firms Has Halved” [Alex Tabarrok; Naomi LaChance, Inside Sources, on decline of IPOs] Does SEC Chairman Mary Jo White get it? [Hodak Value]
- Tax havens and tax competition serve vital policy function, to “curtail the greed of the political class” [Dan Mitchell] Related: “The War Against Cash, Part III”
- Not the theater’s fault, says a Colorado jury, rejecting Aurora massacre suit [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, and here, related here, etc.]
- Senate GOP could have cut off funds for HUD’s social-engineer-the-suburbs power grab, AFFH. So why’d they arrange instead to spare it? [Paul Mirengoff/PowerLine, more, earlier] Related: federal judge Denise Cote denies motion to challenge supposed speech obligations of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino under consent decree with HUD [Center for Individual Rights; earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Earnhardt Family Fighting Over Whether One Earnhardt Son Can Use His Own Last Name” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
- Freddie Gray charges, bad new laws on pay, the state’s stake in world trade, armored vehicles for cops, bar chart baselines that don’t start at zero, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- “You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use” [Eugene Volokh on NYC human rights commission guidance]
- Despite potential for schadenfreude, please refrain from taxing university endowments [John McGinnis]