Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.
You probably saw this week’s topic coming. Until the folks at One First Street start tossing Elie and me some fresh meat to tussle over, my indignation — righteous as it is — must be directed elsewhere. Unless EM wants to argue that, when SCOTUS decided that Pelkey’s claim was not preempted by federal law in Dan’s City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey, the Nine were, like, racist or something. (Query: what race is Dan? Where was the supplemental briefing?!)
So. The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status. I couldn’t not talk about this scandal, right?
Truly, I kept avoiding devoting this week’s column to the IRS abuses. Seriously.
For one thing, I was not initially so scandalized by this supposed scandal, though I was appropriately dismayed. Second, this story is still developing. So, I hereby reserve my right to be feverishly pissed off later….
Dear Republicans who are multi-orgasmic over this IRS scandal, just skip this article. Skip the comments. We get it: “OBAMA… had the GOVERNMENT… like, DO STUFF… which PROVES that taxes are bad!!!” Click over to Red State and bathe in the echo chamber. Here, the adults need to have a talk.
My question for the lawyers is this: how are we supposed to check the validity of groups asking for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status? I mean, let’s look at this “scandal” in the way the justice system will look at it, without all the partisan accusations:
Group asks for 501(c)(4) status.
Group has anti-government message in its very name.
Group doesn’t apply for 527 status as a political organization because???
IRS asks questions to figure out if these groups are really “social welfare” organizations.
I’m open to the possibility that the IRS did something wrong. I’d just like somebody to tell me what the hell they were supposed to do? Just rubber stamp it? Because if that’s true, I certainly think this website is concerned about the “social welfare” and would like to be tax-exempt.
Maybe we should ask the woman in charge of the IRS Exempt Organization Division if we can get tax-exempt status? She’s actually getting an honorary tribute at a law school this weekend…
* It’d be easy to say “a former Tea Party candidate posted about assassinating the President.” But it’s probably more accurate to say a crazy, racist, loony person scrawled something naughty on Facebook and is now in trouble. [Huffington Post]
* I’d like to buy this, and then use it to TP Herman Cain’s house while screaming, “It’s less complicated than your sex life!” [Tax Prof Blog]
* I wonder if, a generation from now, people will look back on Citizens United like Plessy v. Ferguson. Like, there will still be a few holdouts saying, “money is speech now, money is speech forever,” but most of society will have moved on to a more enlightened state. [Congressman John Yarmuth]
In my lifetime, Kobe has been one of the most fun players to not like.
* Maybe all we need is a simple Constitutional amendment clarifying that “only people are people.” Corporations are not people. Animals are not people. Artificially intelligent robots who one day rise up to threaten humanity’s existence are not people. [Miller-McCune]
* Oh, Kobe. When you beat a rape rap yet still have to publicly admit you bang hoteliers in Vail, you should just get divorced right then and there. No number of diamond nor championship rings is going to put that back together. She’s still going to kill you in the divorce, and all you’ve bought yourself is a few extra years of living with a woman who openly hates you. [L.A. Now via ABA Journal]
* You think bloggers suffer from group think too much? I vote for 2012 being the year when the mainstream media stops stealing story ideas from the blogs (without credit), and does some actual original reporting again. You know, like they are supposed to with their huge staffs and massive budgets. [What About Clients?]
When we’ve heard in the past about Virginia Lamp Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, it was usually as his fellow RV road warrior. But Ginni Thomas is now much more high-profile. The Los Angeles Times reported this weekend that she has launched Liberty Central Inc., a conservative non-profit inspired by the Tea Party movement.
LibertyCentral.org will serve the big tent of the conservative movement and assist all viable individuals and organizations with education and engagement. The site’s primary focus will be on emerging and new citizen activists – helping them discover a viable path to effective and efficient activism, along with an understanding of why their participation matters in accordance with founding principles and limited Constitutional governance.
Experts tell the L.A. Times that Thomas’ work doesn’t violate ethical rules for judges, but that it could give rise to conflicts of interest for her husband.
People are already pointing out that the 5-4 decision in Citizens United cleared the way for Liberty Central to fill its coffers with corporate cash.
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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