A federal appeals court unanimously confirmed Friday that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials targeted Tea Party and conservative non-profit applicants, with one of the judges calling the tax agency’s actions indefensible.
“It being plain to the Inspector General, the District Court, and this court that the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits,” U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle wrote.
The court overturned a previous decision that said IRS employees proved they had stopped sending Tea Party tax exemption applications into what one agency manager called a “black hole.” The three-judge panel did, however, agree that Tea Party groups couldn’t sue individual IRS officials. (RELATED:IRS Colleagues called Lois Lerner ‘Volatile’)
Similarly, the FBI recommended no criminal charges against agency employees, even though investigators uncovered sufficient evidence, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. They also failed to catch the official who created internal documents and issued orders to target the tea party. (RELATED: Real Power Behind IRS Conservative Targeting Scandal Still A Mystery)
The IRS argued they stopped the targeting, but that Tea Party lawsuits against the agency again halted their tax exemption applications.
Sentelle, however, called the explanation “reminiscent of Catch-22 from the novel of the same name.” Joseph Heller’s 1961 book exemplified the contradictory and impossible bureaucratic hurdles government sets up to halt opposition.
Sentelle explained one example:
“Under that ‘catch,’ World War II airmen were not required to fly if they were mentally ill,” he said. “However, anyone who applied to stop flying was evidencing rationality and therefore not mentally ill.”
“[T]he IRS is telling the applicants in these cases that ‘we have been violating your rights and not properly processing your applications. You are entitled to have your applications processed. But if you ask for that processing by way of a lawsuit, then you can’t have it.’”
The decision means the IRS will again have to present sufficient evidence to persuade the court that the targeting has been stopped and will not be repeated.
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