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Weekend Circuit: IRS Bench Slapped Over Targeting Practices

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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This is Weekend Circuit, a review of the serious and the silly in federal appellate courts in the last week.

D.C. Circuit Scolds IRS For Unfair Targeting Practices

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the IRS systematically targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny by delaying their applications for tax-exempt status and submitting the groups to invasive probes, like forfeiting internet usernames and passwords or reviewing the political and charitable activities of family members. The three-judge panel characterized the agency’s arguments in its defense as “puzzling,” rejecting their claim that the agency could not process the tax-exempt applications of groups party to the litigation. Since the D.C. Circuit was not convinced IRS targeting had ceased, it reversed a lower court ruling denying the conservative groups an injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings. (RELATED: New FBI Docs Show IRS Tea Party Applications To ‘Black Hole’)

The court also found that senior agency officials, including former Exempt Organizations Chief Lois Lerner and Director John Koskinen, may not be sued in their individual capacities, as the conservative groups had hoped.

The agency is also battling other conservative groups in a separate class action law suit.

Seventh Circuit Vacates Ruling Softening Wisconsin Voter ID Law

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a lower court ruling which provided a remedy for Wisconsin voters lacking government-issued identification necessary to vote. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman, a Clinton appointee, issued a ruling allowing Wisconsin voters lacking government ID to sign an affidavit affirming their identity before casting a ballot. A three-judge panel found that Adelman’s ruling was not sufficiently deferential to Wisconsin state law and that the remedy was too lenient.

“The district court’s injunction allows any registered voter to check a box stating a reason why reasonable effort would not produce a qualifying photo ID,” the panel wrote. “The boxes include lack of necessary documents (apparently including situations in which the person has not tried to obtain them), “work”, “family responsibilities”, and “other”—and the voter can put anything in the “other” box, including a belief that spending a single minute to obtain a qualifying photo ID is not reasonable.”

Chicago Man Can’t Sue Cops After Wrongful Traffic Stop Results In Long Prison Bid

Chicago police officers Billy Gonzalez and Christian Ramirez pulled over a car driven by Mark Rosado in September, 2012, claiming Rosado had not properly signaled before executing a turn. During the course of the stop they claimed to have seen a handgun, a badge, and handcuffs in Rosado’s vehicle. Rosado, who had a prior felony conviction, was arrested for unlawful possession of a handgun and for violating the state armed habitual criminal statute.

Rosado spent the ensuing year and a half in jail fighting the charges and preparing for trial. He attained a copy of the dash cam video of his traffic stop in February, 2014, which clearly indicated he had properly signaled before executing the turn for which he was pulled over. The charges against him were quickly dismissed.

Rosado brought a lawsuit against the officer, alleging false arrest, conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, failure to intervene, and violation of due process. The 7th Circuit sided with the officers, finding that the two-year statute of limitations had already elapsed. Though Rosado claimed the statute of limitations starting running the day of his release, the court ruled it began running on the day of his arrest.

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