Obama's IRS intimidation has no place in America

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) issued a call to action today for Congress to stop the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of President Obama’s political opponents.

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Jindal noted that the targeting is couched under the soft but deadly cloak of disclosure of names of social welfare organization donors in an exclusive opinion piece released this morning through NetRightDaily.com, a project of Americans for Limited Government.

Warning America about new regulations the IRS is proposing to legitimize the targeting of Tea Party groups and others, Jindal writes, “As with many things associated with the Obama Administration, there’s a big catch. The IRS could easily use those donor lists to engage in harassment and intimidation against those who disagree with the Administration’s liberal agenda.”

I agree.

And so does the U.S. Supreme Court. No, I’m not talking about the Citizens United decision that opened the doors for individuals and corporations to be able to defend their interests against an avaricious government. Instead I’m speaking of the 1958 NAACP v. Alabama case where the Supreme Court expressly protected the NAACP’s donor and member records from the state, voicing concerns that sound eerily familiar today.

The unanimous opinion authored by Justice John Marshall Harlan reads, "Immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner's membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner's members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The decision clearly and unequivocably established that the freedom of association dedicated to the “advancement of beliefs and ideas” is an inherent part of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

Now, Obama’s IRS and cheerleaders for its targeting of political opponents, such as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), want to turn back the clock and return to the days when the state would use its political power to suppress liberty movements.

Like those who fought for equality in the '50s, we will not be stopped by this attempt at intimidation. Lovers of liberty will not be cowed by an IRS run amok at the hands of a president who apparently missed civics class in his senior year at Punahou School in Hawaii. No, attempts by this president and his minions to shut down Tea Party movements will instead result in even more freedom-loving Americans taking time away from their regularly scheduled lives to exercise their freedom of dissent from town meetings to Capitol Hill. 

Like the civil rights movement of the 1950s, which the Supreme Court decided was protected from a government seeking to gain access to their member and donor lists in order to target them simply due to their beliefs, the Tea Party will not be silenced.

And, as long as leaders like Jindal are willing to stand strong, freedom will prevail.

The only question is whether members of Congress use their “power of the purse” to rein in this abuse of power, or will they just talk?

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. Contact him at rmanning@getliberty.org.

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