The Spectacle Blog

The IRS Needs Constitutional Sensitivity Training

By on 5.14.13 | 11:39AM

As the Post reported last week, the IRS specifically targeted conservative “political action type organizations involved in…educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” along with those of other motives. 

After the 2010 Citizens United case, the number of political groups applying to be 501(c)4s doubled; the status exempts non-profit “social welfare” organizations from taxes. Tax law defines such associations as “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”

The scandal arose from the application of this nebulous definition to political organizations; under the law, 501(c)(4)s cannot practice political activities primarily. The IRS selected 298 groups for special scrutiny in 2011, many of which “criticized how the country is being run.”

On January 15, 2012, the IRS applied a new political test for social welfare groups, looking specifically at those that sought to limit the power of government or taught about our governmental blueprint.

It is ironic that the IRS placed special scrutiny on organizations educating about a document that helped conceive the agency itself. It is as if the federal government doesn’t want its citizens to practice our most important founding principle: self-governance.  

“Social welfare” must include the education of American history and civic responsibilities. If we do not know our own history, we tread the path to tyranny, then to instability, thus destroying American society as we know it today. 

The Department of Education even recognizes this; any educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year must “hold an educational program about the U.S. Constitution for its students.”

Thankfully, many people, including President Obama himself, see this unwarranted scrutiny as a scandal and an abomination. Targeting the Constitution worsens the scandal significantly, as it provides a juicy example of what the Founders feared: arbitrary authoritarianism by a centralized government.

Maybe the federal government should host annual constitutional sensitivity courses. Every bureaucrat would hopefully realize where their duty and responsibilities originate, even as they obstruct their citizens from learning the same.

H/T to James Legee for telling me about the DoE policy.

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