Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The NorCal Tea Party last month filed class action litigation against the Internal Revenue Service in federal court in Ohio, based on the unconstitutional profiling and harassment of conservative, religious and other liberty-minded organizations in their applications for non-profit status. By its own admission, the IRS has been profiling and discriminating against hundreds of groups based on their political viewpoint.
As the lead plaintiff in the case, the NorCal Tea Party is made up of ordinary citizens who live in a small town in Northern California. They are not alone as citizens targeted by the IRS, and in the case of this litigation they are simply a representative plaintiff. The class action they filed – funded by my organization, Citizens for Self-Governance - seeks to obtain redress for all “similarly situated” organizations.
Why did we do it? Why did this group and others who have signed on with them file litigation against one of the most intimidating agencies of the federal government? Why is it important that these groups stand up and sue the IRS en masse?
These citizens are standing because while Congress may put on some good theatre with hearings and speeches, they will not solve the problem. As President Ronald Reagan told us during his first inaugural address to the nation, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” The fundamental problem we face is a federal government run amok. Government itself cannot and will not fix that problem. Only We the People can.
The immediate crisis facing us involves an agency of the federal government targeting people for illegal and unconstitutional treatment based on their political viewpoints. Congress funds the IRS, creates the laws under which they operate and theoretically provides oversight. So who is really responsible for the crisis? Is the current problem with the IRS the disease we must address or merely a symptom of a more serious illness? Is it a rogue agency, or are we witness to a rogue government?
Many in the media present the IRS scandal as a bug in the system. But the reality is it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. With a tax code nearing 80,000 pages, with more special favors and loopholes being added every year, what we’re witnessing is a system operating exactly as designed. The IRS has wide discretionary powers to punish those who oppose government policies and to give favors to their friends.
When the government runs off the rails, it cannot be counted on to right its own course. Only the actions of brave citizens like those who are standing against the heavy hand of the IRS can save the nation. That’s why the ordinary citizens of the Nor Cal Tea Party and others like them are so important. They are our last line of defense against a government run amok, and we should honor them for their willingness to stand and fight.
Mark Meckler is the president of Citizens for Self-Governance, a grassroots organization based in Austin, Texas.
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