In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
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First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

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Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Inside the Texas-Led, 20-State Lawsuit Challenging Obama’s Immigration Amnesty Print
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, December 10 2014
Read as a whole, the States' lawsuit tells the story of a president and his administration continuously rewriting immigration law in clear violation of constitutional norms.

With the additions of Arizona, Florida and Ohio, there are now twenty states suing the Obama administration over the president’s unilateral decision to grant temporary amnesty and work permits to as many as five million illegal immigrants.

The Texas-led lawsuit is a textbook case of Constitutional Litigation 101. Brushing aside any notion that the states are asking the federal judiciary to play politics, it makes clear the real issues at stake: “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.”

All three have been violated, claims the lawsuit.

As the federal government’s chief executive the President of the United States has the sworn duty to “take care” that the laws passed by Congress are faithfully executed. He cannot, therefore, “rewrite them under the guise of executive ‘discretion.’”

Citing President Obama’s admission that his latest amnesty “took action to change the law,” the States’ lawsuit agrees.

Current federal law requires non-legalized parents of U.S.-born children to (1) wait until their child turns 21 years old, (2) leave the country, (3) wait 10 more years, and (4) obtain a family-preference visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. By contrast, Obama’s new policy enlarges his current deferred action program “with an acceptance rate that rounds to 100%” making it “a de facto entitlement – one that even the president and [the Office of Legal Counsel] admitted would require a change to the law.”

The other two legal problems with Obama’s expanded deferred action program are more technical, but no less dangerous if left unchecked.

The official government document that creates and implements Obama’s latest amnesty is a directive signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Because DHS is a federal agency, it is required by law to provide a notice-and-comment period whenever it proposes to change a rule that has the force of law. Here, the DHS directive promulgating Obama’s amnesty went into effect immediately, thus bypassing the notice-and-comment requirement.

Moreover, since “The DHS Directive purports to create legal rights for millions of undocumented immigrants” and “does so by rewriting the immigration laws and contradicting the priorities adopted by Congress,” it is unlawful.

As the States’ lawsuit progresses through the federal judiciary, it is important to keep in mind that none of the legal claims in the brief relies on contrary opinions over immigration policy. Rather, the legal challenges rest exclusively on constitutional and statutory requirements that have been unilaterally ignored by the Obama administration.

Of course, the Obama administration’s approach to immigration policy is the reason for this constitutional showdown, and the States’ lawsuit provides a mini-history of the federal decisions that led to this point.

In a twenty-page list of factual allegations the States’ lawsuit summarizes in dramatic detail how the Obama administration has turned a multi-year end-run around the lawmaking process into a humanitarian crisis.

It begins with a series of statements from President Obama between 2010 and 2011 saying he has no power to unilaterally implement the terms of the DREAM Act that failed to pass Congress. One of the most damaging occurred on October 25, 2010, when Obama said, “I am president, I am not a king. I can’t do these things just by myself… [T]here’s a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law… I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”

The States’ lawsuit then describes how in 2012 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program not only halted deportation proceedings for up to 1.7 million illegal immigrants, but also makes the recipients eligible for many of the same benefits promised in the DREAM Act.

An unintended but completely foreseeable consequence of DACA was the massive surge in illegal crossings of children, mothers and families that followed. There are plenty of damning statistics, such as spikes in illegal crossings from 6,000 to 7,500 before DACA but up to 90,000 in 2014.

The lawsuit also quotes from a federal district judge’s order in United States v. Nava-Martinez (2013) finding that the United States government is complicit in human trafficking.

The judge in Nava-Martinez faulted DHS for completing criminal conspiracies between illegal immigrant parents in the U.S. and human traffickers to smuggle children through Mexico into America. The judge noted the problem is widespread, writing that it was “the fourth case with the same factual situation this Court has had in as many weeks.”

All of this is followed by newer quotes from President Obama saying that he couldn’t possibly do more than DACA to help illegal immigrants because he is “not a king.” Only Congress can pass laws to change the status of illegal immigrants.

But then came November 20, 2014, when the president announced he would expand DACA to shield the parents of U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens from deportation and grant them work permits.

Read as a whole, the States’ lawsuit tells the story of a president and his administration continuously rewriting immigration law in clear violation of constitutional norms. If there is to be any hope in checking the executive branch’s unilateral expansion of its own authority, the federal judiciary must take this challenge seriously, and remind President Obama that once upon a time he was correct.

He is not a king.

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