This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Trump Administration Secures Victory for Donor Privacy and 1st Amendment Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 28 2020
By issuing final regulations relieving non-profit organizations of the requirement to provide names, addresses and other identifying information on donors via Schedule B forms as part of their annual tax filing obligations with the IRS, private citizens can feel more secure in supporting organizations whose missions accord with their own beliefs.

Yet more welcome news arrived this week from the Trump Administration, as the United States Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations protecting the First Amendment rights of donors to certain non-profit organizations. 

For too long, as the Lois Lerner scandal illustrated, government officials have targeted and persecuted private American citizens simply on the basis of political belief. 

Thanks to the Trump Administration, however, along with critical leadership from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R - Louisiana), Congressman Kevin Brady (R – Texas) and other Members of Congress, the Treasury Department and IRS are finally rectifying that situation. 

At issue is what’s known as a “990 Schedule B” form, by which the IRS for years collected sensitive private information on nonprofit groups and their donors.  Specifically, it contains the names, addresses and other intimate information of donors, which obviously exposes non-profit organizations and private supporters to targeting and abuse. 

And all too often, that’s precisely what happened.  Rogue IRS officials and politically extremist outside hackers repeatedly accessed sensitive Schedule B information to target private citizens for no other reason than their support of organizations deemed politically intolerable.  The National Organization for Marriage’s confidential donor records were leaked, perfectly law-abiding citizens were chased from their jobs and harassed at their homes and hyper-partisan state attorneys general demanded access to the confidential donor information in pursuit of such crusades as climate change shaming. 

Outrageously, the IRS insisted on collecting that sensitive donor information even though applicable laws prohibited it from using it for any substantive purpose.  The IRS itself openly acknowledged that Schedule B information is irrelevant to oversight of filings or enforcement of the tax code, and previous IRS Commissioners questioned the need for Schedule B forms while admitting that the IRS can't guarantee confidentiality of the information contained in them. 

In this era of persecution of private citizens for their political beliefs, that’s simply intolerable. 

It also contravenes clear Supreme Court precedent.  In NAACP v. Alabama (1958) a unanimous Court held that government officials couldn’t force the NAACP to disclose sensitive membership data, because that would chill First Amendment activity by exposing supporters to retaliation: 

"This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations.  Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order.  Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs." 

From Lois Lerner to the National Organization for Marriage experience, that logic maintains even greater force today, when a simple internet connection can facilitate targeting and harassment from thousands of miles away. 

Although Congressional conservatives in recent years introduced legislation to prohibit the IRS from continuing to force non-profit groups to surrender confidential donor information via Schedule B forms, such commonsense proposals were scuttled by leftists who seemed to think that federal, state and local government officials should maintain access to sensitive data that the IRS itself admitted wasn’t used for enforcement or other legal purposes. 

Fortunately, the Trump Administration brought welcome leadership in ending this indefensible IRS practice and bolstering Americans’ First Amendment rights.  By issuing final regulations relieving non-profit organizations of the requirement to provide names, addresses and other identifying information on donors via Schedule B forms as part of their annual tax filing obligations with the IRS, private citizens can feel more secure in supporting organizations whose missions accord with their own beliefs. 

That’s the very essence of the First Amendment, and the Trump Administration, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Scalise deserve immense credit. 

CFIF has for years spearheaded a broad coalition effort to eliminate the Schedule B requirement, including filing formal comments in support of the rulemaking, and this offers a welcome vindication of First Amendment rights and the rule of law.

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"We can return to the explosive job creation, rising wages and general prosperity we had before the pandemic. We can have economic freedom and opportunity, and resist cancel culture and censorship. We can put annus horribilis, 2020, behind us and make America great again, again. We can do all this -- if we make the right choice on Nov. 3.The New York Post endorses President Donald J. Trump for re-…[more]
 
 
—The Editors, New York Post
— The Editors, New York Post
 
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