In November 2009, some very brave medical malpractice victims decided to visit the district offices of Virginia’s two U.S. Senators in the hopes to showing them the importance of the civil justice system. When they arrived, the local Tea Party group was demonstrating. As the families tried to get through the door, they were yelled at and harassed with cruel taunts and screams (“communists!”) and more. That was then. This is now. I hope.
Since that time, many in the conservative movement have said that actually, the right to access the courts and civil jury trials is fundamental to our democracy, enshrined in the Bill of Rights and in need of protection right now. If they need any more reminder of that, I hope they think about the fact that the tool they are using to sue the IRS – a class action – is on the brink of extinction in many areas, thanks to Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.
So far, there have been two cases filed against the IRS. The latest is from “True the Vote, a Texas-based Tea Party-related group, [which] claims it was unfairly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service and wants the government to admit its mistake and pay for damages totaling more than $85,000." The other is by “the Nor Cal Tea Party Patriots.” Writes Fox,
Also interesting is the fact that the ACLU, still sometimes tagged with the "communist" label by the right, (ah, remember when Bill O'Reilly had this lovely remark: "Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member. So would Stalin. Castro probably is. And so would Mao Zedong."?) is now representing two editors at a libertarian online magazine, Antiwar.com, who were targeted for surveillance by the FBI.
The NorCal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Cincinnati, seeks group status for “all conservative and libertarian groups targeted for additional scrutiny” between March 2010 and May 2013. It’s also seeking unspecified monetary damages for the alleged violation of its constitutional rights and the costs associated with trying to comply with IRS demands.…
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for the IRS’ alleged violation of the Privacy Act of 1974 and the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. It is not known exactly how many groups could qualify to be members of the class-action lawsuit. There were 296 applications reviewed in the inspector general’s report released last week.
After a year, the FBI has failed to produce any documents, so Garry’s and Raimondo do not know the full extent of the surveillance and whether it is ongoing. The editors are asking the FBI to turn over relevant documents, and to stop collecting records of their constitutionally protected speech.
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy, whether it’s the Associated Press or Antiwar.com,” said Julia Mass, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “Government surveillance of news organizations interferes with journalists’ ability to do their jobs.”