Fifty five years ago in the halls of justice, Montgomery, Alabama, 1957. The SCOTUS ruled on the case, NAACP v. Alabama. This case is one which has suddenly become relevant again. The state of Alabama had informed the NAACP, that they were required to give the State Attorney General, the names of all members and agents in the state.
In 1957, the NAACP was hated by the democrats and they kept trying to suppress and intimidate the organization out of existence. The NAACP was of the opinion that the racist democratic party wanted to force them to quit defending it’s members against their overt bigotry. The segregationists wanted to keep the status quo and separate the two races in all things. The NAACP was a threat to them.
Finally, finding itself under attack, and at the same time fearing reprisals from the democrats, the NAACP sued Alabama. They made the claim that by insisting on a list of members, they were violating their 14th Amendment Rights.
Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Obviously, by enacting a requirement of naming members, Alabama was trying to interfere with the free association of the NAACP without due process. The SCOTUS ruled in favor the NAACP by a 9-0 majority.
Flash forward. The same situation. Same country. Same bigoted democratic party. The year was 2010 and the democratic controlled IRS in Washington decreed that conservative groups wishing to get tax exempt status, would have to list their members and their donors. This same demand was not made of liberal groups wanting tax exempt status or even liberal groups who were in direct violation of their status by organizing with campaigns such as Politico and Media matters or Moveon.org.
This is also in direct violation of the equal protection law also in Section one. So the IRS scandal is really a matter of civil and constitutional rights. The IRS, any entity directing the IRS (White House) and some of the employees within the IRS, personally, have violated the 14th Amendment and these groups have the right to sue. It’s important that when they do sue (Some groups have already filed) that they include specific employees of the IRS and White House, to discourage similar behavior in the future.
Also, I believe, it would be in their best interest, as well as the best interest of this country, that they take the IRS to SCOTUS. The Supreme Court operates on precedent and a 9-0 decision would be especially hard to reverse. The state does not have an overwhelming interest in knowing the members or the donors of these groups. Their only concern is to make sure the group as a whole, follow the terms shared equally by all parties, and in accordance with the requirements needed to be a tax exempt group.
Stay tuned, this is getting more interesting by the moment.
Steven Ahle is the Editor of Red Statements and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.