A federal judge has dismissed on procedural grounds lawsuits filed by several tea party groups against the IRS, USA Today reported
The judge, in his opinion issued Wednesday, stressed that he was not ruling on the merits of the cases
filed by True the Vote and Lynchpins of Liberty, along with many other tea party affiliated organizations who had claimed that their petitions for tax status had been stymied or held up for greater scrutiny by the federal agency, which has been investigated by Congress amid targeting allegations.
"The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants," noted U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2001 by President George W. Bush.
Attorney Jay Sekulow, who represented the defendants in the Linchpins case, said they would appeal. He noted that many similar clients continue to have tax-exempt status applications held up by the IRS. Several have withdrawn because the process took so long.
"The decision by the court is disappointing," Sekulow, who serves as chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, told USA Today. "However, it does not deter our efforts to seek justice for our clients."
Walton said issues before him in the cases were rendered largely moot after the IRS responded to concerns and status petitions were approved. He added: "Unless an actual, ongoing controversy exists in this case, this Court is without power to decide it."
Legal experts said the decision leaves future victims of possible IRS misconduct vulnerable.
“It’s a disappointing ruling because it basically leaves targets of bad behavior by the IRS without a remedy," noted Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky, according to The Daily Signal
“Given the unapologetic behavior of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials, and their total lack of remorse, I don’t think it’s speculative that this could happen again in the future,” he said.
Some Republican lawmakers, however, have pledged to take up the IRS issue anew if they regain full control of Congress, The Hill noted
“Most of the oversight has, frankly, been taking place in the House,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a vocal IRS critic who serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to The Hill.
“You’re going to have more eyes looking at this issue, potentially twice as many hearings happening,” Jordan told The Hill. “That gives you that much more opportunity to get to the truth, in spite of the fact that the administration is not cooperating.”
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