Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

WSJ Op-Ed: When Judge Jackson Sided With A Pro-Israel Nonprofit In Tax Exemption Battle Against The IRS

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  When Judge Jackson Ruled Against the IRS, by Leslie Lenkowsky (Indiana):

JacksonIt’s safe to assume that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson—who was appointed to the federal bench by President Obama and has been lauded by progressives—wasn’t personally a fan of the tea-party movement. But while on the bench, she defended a pro-Israel group that was seeking tax exemption against the sort of extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service brought to bear on many organizations associated with the tea party during the Obama administration.

The case involved Z Street, which provides information to the public on issues related to Zionism, Israel and the Middle East. At the end of 2009, it applied for tax exemption as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. Six months later, an IRS representative allegedly told Z Street a decision would be delayed because the agency had a special unit to examine requests from groups dealing with Israel to determine whether their views contradicted the Obama administration’s policies.

Z Street sued, and the case was assigned to Judge Jackson. In a 2014 ruling, Judge Jackson dismissed the IRS’s argument that its judgments about tax exemptions had immunity from judicial review. She accused the IRS of using procedural claims to block litigation of a constitutional issue.

After Z Street finally received its tax exemption, Judge Jackson approved a 2018 agreement in which the IRS expressed its “sincere apology” for the delay and acknowledged that its criteria for approving requests for tax-exemption shouldn’t include political beliefs—though the agency still denied it had applied a political test to Z Street’s application. In her conclusion of the case, Judge Jackson declared it was “wrong” to use the tax laws against any group “based solely on any lawful positions it espouses on any issue” or its “association with a particular political movement, position, or viewpoint.” ...

Nonprofit groups provide important intellectual diversity to our country by advocating policies that the government or even a majority of the public may not favor. Judge Jackson upheld vital American values in protecting Z Street’s constitutional rights.

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