Thursday, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed almost all counts in two major lawsuits brought by conservative groups against the IRS.
So why would Judge Walton — a George W. Bush appointee — make this decision?
Believe it or not, he says that claims for injunctive relief are moot because there is “no reasonable expectation” that the IRS would continue to target conservative organizations based on their viewpoint.
But this defies what we know to be true. The IRS has repeatedly insisted its actions were for “tax-administration purposes” and were otherwise legitimate functions to determine the groups’ tax-exempt status. The IRS has concealed evidence, obscured facts, and — evidence shows — still harassed conservative groups after their scheme was revealed.
Judge Walton also missed the mark by dismissing the claims against the IRS for its unauthorized inspection and disclosure of taxpayer information. In reaching his decision, Judge Walton embraced a flimsy dichotomy promoted by the IRS that distinguishes between an improper acquisition of taxpayer information and an improper inspection of the information. By focusing on how the information was obtained, Judge Walton failed to consider or appreciate the actual reasons IRS employees inspected the taxpayer information. Although inspecting an application for tax exemption may be lawful for some IRS employees, it certainly was not lawful for those employees whose inspections occurred because of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.