'True the Vote v. IRS' Lawyer: 'The Deep State Is Still Operating'
A prominent constitutional attorney is sounding the alarm over Obama administration-style behavior by attorneys in President Trump's new administration. Jim Bopp, Jr., the attorney for the plaintiff in the landmark Citizens United suit, told PJ Media that he has seen no change in the attitude of government attorneys since Trump's inauguration:
The Deep State is still operating, no question.
I see no evidence the attitude of the IRS has changed. We have a new attorney general, and the Department of Justice is providing the lawyers to defend the IRS in this case. We've seen no change.
Bopp is currently involved with two similarly high-profile suits against the federal government and he says the Trump administration's defense attorneys are presenting arguments indistinguishable from those he faced during Obama's tenure.
In True the Vote v. IRS, election integrity watchdog True the Vote sued the federal government in 2013 over its targeting of pro-liberty non-profit groups for extra scrutiny. This case has wide implications for all non-profits that claimed their tax status was denied or delayed by Lois Lerner and a rogue IRS. Bopp is also an attorney on Louisiana Republican Party v. Federal Elections Commission, which targets some of the vestiges of McCain-Feingold that have yet to be found unconstitutional.
It boggles the mind that the IRS in a Trump administration would still be defending the actions of Lois Lerner and the notorious branch in Cincinnati. They had burdened groups with "Tea Party," "Liberty," "Constitution," and other related words in their title with mountains of extra paperwork to affirm their non-profit tax status. Yet, according to Bopp, that is indeed the case.
Bopp says similar stall tactics are being employed in Louisiana Republican Party by the lawyers representing the FEC:
The issue is, in the Supreme Court, the solicitor general's office is the one that does the briefing. The solicitor general's office is now under the Trump administration. They just filed a brief that was right out of the deep recesses of the FEC, making the same specious arguments that would prevent us from striking down some parts of McCain-Feingold. I don't see any change.
Louisiana is the latest in a series of suits Bopp has worked on successfully attacking McCain-Feingold on constitutional grounds:
Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC [is] what blew the door open because the court ruled unanimously that as applied challenges, testing the application of the law in certain circumstances, could be brought even though the law had been upheld on its face. The result of that decision was a narrowing down of the corporate prohibition. Then I brought Citizens United, which then struck those limits down.
We're now challenging the limits on state and local parties doing traditional election related activities -- voter registration, voter identification, "get out the vote" activity, those type of generic campaign activities. What McCain-Feingold says is you have to use federal money, not state-regulated money. What we say is that that law requiring separately regulated funds is unconstitutional as applied to doing those activities independently of a federal candidate.
Bopp reiterated that the federal defense strategy against his current cases has not changed with the new administration:
The Trump administration and the Republican Party in general is very hostile to McCain-Feingold, and supportive of constitutional challenges to these sorts of laws. The solicitor filed a brief last week that was written by the FEC, and was as bad as anything we got during the Obama administration.
Asked if the recent reports of the Trump administration being slow to make appointments could be a factor in the continuing operation of the Deep State, Bopp answered:
I don't know why either of these things are occurring. I just know that basically nothing has changed, in both cases. These are important cases. They are of central concern to Republicans and conservatives. These are issues that are high-profile, and are pretty important. We've seen no change.
I don't know what the reasons are. There could be very good reasons, I just don't know. I just know that nothing has changed. That's noteworthy.
Bopp's observations come amid a renewed push by House Republicans to reopen the case against Lerner for possible prosecution. On April 9, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting he reopen the probe.
Should True the Vote and Louisiana reach the Supreme Court, Bopp is hopeful that new Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch will decide in his favor:
The case has objective legal merit. We should win, and now we have a nine-member court, so we should win at least 5-4. All we know about Gorsuch is his general judicial philosophy. That is certainly consistent with those of Justice Scalia and other conservatives on the court, Thomas and Alito certainly, Roberts usually, and so we're cautiously optimistic that he'll be favorable to our challenges. But I have no prediction.