The revelations of the scandals within the Obama administration in the past couple of weeks make those of us who are old enough recall 1973, when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernsteins investigative reporting and then the hearings of a special Senate investigative committee brought to the public one astounding detail after another about Watergate. The current developments have been even more striking. One scandal or possible scandal after another, reaching across different executive branch agencies, have come to light in breathtakingly brief succession. There has been the apparent cover-up about the Benghazi episode, the Justice Departments open-ended seizure of phone records from a wide array of Associated Press offices (including one in the U.S. Capitol Building), the disclosure of apparently politically-motivated decisions and actions by the IRS, the seeming policy of the EPA of waiving fees and fines on the basis of groups political views, the reports that HHS Secretary Sebelius has been contacting companiesincluding possibly those regulated by her departmentto solicit funds to help implement Obamacare, and accusations of sexual assault against military men in two branches of the armed forces whose jobs were to prevent sexual assaults.
Of all these possible or acknowledged scandals, however, especially troubling for most Americans is the one involving the IRSif for no other reasons than that its sights can easily be turned on them. The IRS has admitted to singling out TEA Party and other conservative groups that were applying for tax-exempt status under Section 501 (c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code. It delayed their applicationssometimes for yearsand made excessive and irrelevant inquiries. It often flagged organizations just because they used terms such as patriot or limited government to refer to themselves and their work. Sometimes it asked for donor or even membership lists (this directly violates the standing U.S. Supreme Court precedent of NAACP v. Alabama ), which held that such membership queries violated the freedom of association implicitly protected by the First Amendment. At the same time, leftist groups got a pass. Such disparate treatment flies in the face of another long-established constitutional doctrine, in which the Court has forbade viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment free speech clause.
The IRS apparently also leaked confidential information, a violation of federal law. It appears that they provided information about pending 501 (c) (4) applications by conservative groups to ProPublica, a leftist media organization. During the 2008 campaign for the anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8 in California, it also appears that the IRS leaked confidential information about the National Organization for Marriages donors to its adversary, the pro-homosexualist Human Rights Campaign. The head of the HRC was Obamas 2008 campaign co-chairman. NOM plans to sue the IRS over this.
There have also been revelations that the IRS made as a condition of a favorable ruling for tax-exempt status for a pro-life group that it not actively protest at Planned Parenthood facilities. Another pro-life groupa Christian organizationwas closely scrutinized for involvement in the annual Life Chain and prayer vigils and was probed about the viewpoint content of its educational materials. The Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, has taken up their cases. The one involves an attempt to stop constitutionally protected peaceful picketing, and the other more unconstitutional viewpoint-based discrimination and a threat to the freedom of assembly.
Perhaps most troubling is the situation of Dr. Anne Hendershott, my colleague on the Franciscan University of Steubenville faculty and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists Board of Directors. Dr. Hendershott is one of the leading Catholic sociologists in the U.S. When the current IRS scandals broke, she decided to go public about the questionable audit she was subjected to in 2010, apparently because she wrote articles that: questioned the true Catholic character of two well-known sister non-profit organizations, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United; exposed the funding sources from these organizations (which included George Soros Open Society Institute and a major Democratic party fundraiser); and her raising tax questions about the leftist activist leader of these organizations. She had also written a series of articles critical of Obamacare. According to reportsI have not communicated with Dr. Hendershott about the mattershe was called into the IRSs New Haven office for an audit of her business affairs connected with her writing. She said that at the audit session she was asked about who paid her for writing the articles and what their political viewpoint was. The effect of the audit was that Dr. Hendershott stopped writing about these topics. This is the very essence of chilling effect. The Supreme Court has consistently held that government cannot act in such a manner that it will have a chilling effect on speech so that people will be fearful of expressing their opinions. Moreover, the fact that Dr. Hendershotts criticism was partly questioning whether these organizations were correct in understanding and interpreting Catholic social teaching adds another possible constitutional dimension to this. Did the IRS violate both the establishment and the free exercise clauses of the First Amendment? Did it effectively make an official governmental judgment about correct Catholic doctrine relating to certain public questions, and then called Dr. Hendershott to task for criticizing the positions of these left-tilting Catholic organizations?
It is not an overreaction to say that these IRS scandals sound like official favoritism of certain organizations and political viewpoints and an attempt to suppress opposition. The question of undue political influence also presents itself. For example, did the people who were prominent in the Obama campaign and the Democratic party go to contacts in the administration or in the agency itself to ask for the IRS action? While the IRS has had a history of taking actions that curry favor with the current political powers and has sometimes been accused of a pro-Democratic bias, the funneling of information to ProPublica and the HRC, the hands-off Planned Parenthood demand, the Hendershott matter, and the late-breaking news that information about the scandal was known about but not disclosed during the 2012 election year suggest political pressure from outside the agency. That would not be surprising. After all, this is the administration that has given us the HHS Mandate, supported the claim in the Hosanna-Tabor case that a religious body could not choose its own ministers, wouldnt defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, increased federal financial support for Planned Parenthood, and is trying to stop military personnel from sharing their faith. This all indicates an agenda of hostility to traditional Christian morality and a willingness to share in the repressiveness that has come to characterize the political left.
Congressional hearings on the IRS scandals have begun. The respective Congressional committees should invite Dr. Hendershott and the heads of NOM and the pro-life groups in question to come before them to tell their stories. The committees need to be unrelenting in their effort to reach to the depths of this scandal, which may be one of the most serious in U.S. history. While I have not always been a supporter of special prosecutorsI wonder if their concerns have always been with seeing that justice is done and if they have sometimes promoted political agendasthe questions about the Obama administrations role in this and the seriousness of the matter indicates that one might be needed. Both high and low-level officials and civil servants and political appointees in the IRS should also be aware that such behavioralong with any attempts to silence critics of the agencyis the stuff of massive civil rights lawsuits, not just against the government so that the taxpayers pick up the bill but also against them individually.
In light of all this, one also hopes that the public will see the grave danger of having the IRS enforce the Obamacare law and demand that it be stopped.
Beyond this, it is time for the serious debatethat has been avoided for yearsabout the entire federal tax structure. A flat tax that would necessitate a smaller and less intrusive collection apparatus than the IRS may be indicated. It could easily bring in as much revenue as currently, and meet the demand of Catholic social teaching that it be geared to the principle of ability to pay as much as a graduated tax does.
Nonsense. Dolan is a coward.
Card. Dolan would not suggest pro-abort Gov. Cuomo not a Catholic in good standing: archdiocese
by John Jalsevac
Fri May 17, 2013 11:42 EST
NEW YORK, May 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) After New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan appeared to suggest during a radio interview this week that he may not view pro-abortion Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Catholic in good standing, the archdiocese has issued a statement saying that this is not the case, and that Dolan's remark was misunderstood.
Cardinal Dolan would not, and did not, suggest the governor might not be a Catholic in good standing going forward, archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling said in a statement originally sent to the New York Times, and forwarded to LifeSiteNews.
Dolan made the remark during a discussion about Gov. Cuomos intention to propose a law to make abortion less regulated and more accessible. Cuomo announced the initiative during his State of the State address in January, in which he pledged to protect a womans freedom of choice by enacting a Reproductive Health Act."
The governor added, repeating three times, Because it is her body, it is her choice. Because it's her body, it's her choice. Because it's her body, it's her choice.
During this weeks radio interview, the host of the show, Fred Dicker, asked Cardinal Dolan how Cuomo could be a leader on an issue that the Church fundamentally feels so strongly about," namely abortion, and still be considered a Catholic in good standing?
Well, I dont mind telling you thats one of the things the governor and I talk about, Cardinal Dolan responded. And look, he and I have very grave differences. And this is one of them.
The cardinal added that while he doesnt like to blab on the radio about private conversations about matters of conscience, I dont mind telling you
thats something that I talk turkey with him about, and leave it at that.
The remark was interpreted by the New York Times as suggesting that the cardinal has reservations about whether Gov. Cuomo, who was also the leading advocate of New Yorks 2011 gay marriage law, is a Catholic in good standing.
The archdiocese moved quickly to quell this interpretation.
According to spokesman Zwilling, when the cardinal said he has grave differences and talks turkey with the governor, he was talking about the governors position on abortion, and not about whether the governor is a Catholic in good standing or not.
The Cardinal was very clear throughout
that he and the governor have very different positions on abortion, and he has been forthright with the governor on the matter, in public and in private, said Zwilling. But he has not made any statement about the Governors faith or standing in the Church.
LifeSiteNews.com asked Zwilling if Cardinal Dolan would be willing to consider telling Governor Cuomo that he must change his views on abortion or, in accordance with Canon 915 and Vatican pronouncements, be denied Communion. (See below.) The archdiocesan spokesman, however, demurred from answering the question, instead referring LSN to the statement provided to the Times.
Cardinal Dolan: Gov. Cuomo wants to work very closely with the pro-life movement
Throughout the interview with Fred Dicker, Cardinal Dolan emphasized his positive personal relationship with the governor, and expressed his hopes that the governor would not, in fact, expand abortion in the state.
I appreciate a lot of things about Governor Cuomo. He and I get along well. And Im grateful that he keeps in touch, said the cardinal, adding that while he disagrees with the governor on abortion, he has enjoyed working with him on issues like gun control and immigration.
Cardinal Dolan also said that the governor has been very up front with me that he wants to work very closely with the pro-life community to provide alternatives to abortion, something the cardinal said is refreshing.
Since announcing his intention in January to pass a Reproductive Health Act as part of a broader Womens Equality Act, Governor Cuomo has been coy about what, exactly, his bill will propose. Originally pro-life groups, including the states conference of Catholic bishops, had identified Cuomos bill with the same Reproductive Health Act that has languished for several years in the New York legislature. That bill would dramatically expand abortion access, including late-term abortion, and has been described as the most sweeping abortion legislation in the country.
In the intervening months, however, the governor has appeared to backpedal, suggesting that the bill may only protect the status quo on abortion by codifying federal abortion law in state law.
Cardinal Dolan said the governor has made similar promises to him. Hes told me what hes said publicly, that as of now he has not decided on the details of the Act, and that when it is revealed we wont find it as alarming as some of the rumors are, said the cardinal.
The cardinal also said that of the 10 points mentioned by Cuomo as part of his Womens Equality Act, the Church agrees with him on nine of the points. Its just this one about expansion of abortion that really gives us pause and makes us say, please, thats the last thing this state needs, the cardinal said.
Asked by Dicker if the cardinal wasnt perhaps being too trusting by taking Gov. Cuomo at his word that he doesnt intend to expand abortion, the cardinal admitted that a lot of people are saying that to me.
Theyre saying, Dolan youre too trusting. I say, look, the governor and I have worked closely together on other issues. Ive applauded a lot of the things that hes done
Weve been with him and appreciated what hes done. So, I guess I tend to be a trusting person by nature," he said. I guess I want to believe that he means it when he says hes not going to expand whats already a terribly harmful liberal abortion culture, and that he wants to work hard on alternatives to abortion.
Cardinal Dolan: Its not all that good to trust politicians sometimes
Cardinal Dolan has accused himself of being too trusting of New York politicians in the past.
In the aftermath of the legalization of gay marriage in New York, Cardinal Dolan admitted to EWTNs Raymond Arroyo that the states bishops hadnt really launched an offensive against the bill because they had been assured by political allies that the bill was dead in the water.
So, we had political allies who said, Bishops, keep your ammo dry. You dont have to pull out all the stops, speak on principle, speak up against this bill, but dont really worry, because its not going to go anywhere, said Dolan.
The chief champion and moving force behind the gay marriage bill at the time was Governor Cuomo.
During debate over the bill, the governor had accused those who opposed it of being un-American and saying, in effect, I want to discriminate.
After the bill passed Cuomo was widely accused by Republicans and other advocates of traditional marriage of using coercive and deceptive tactics, including pushing for last minute changes to Senate rules, to ram the bill through the legislature.
During the Arroyo interview, the cardinal was asked if the bishops had learned anything from the experience.
It sort of taught us that its not all that good to trust politicians sometimes, Dolan said. And I think some of us bishops think we were being deceived. And I think that could be, shame on us for believing them.
Cuomo should be denied communion: canon law expert, pro-life leaders
This isnt the first time that the question of Gov. Cuomos status as a Catholic has been the source of public debate, and newspaper headlines.
In February 2011, Vatican canon law legal consultant Ed Peters made headlines when he said that Cuomo should be denied Holy Communion because of his public support for abortion, as well as the fact that he was living openly with his mistress.
Peters based his argument on Canon 915, which states that those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.
Other pro-life leaders have also asked that Governor Cuomo be denied Communion. In this they would appear to have strong support from the Vatican in the form of a letter written to the U.S. bishops in 2004 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in his capacity as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
In that letter, Cardinal Ratzinger had attempted to end debate about whether pro-abortion Catholic public figures should be denied Communion, telling the bishops that those politicians who have been warned by their pastors to change their views on abortion, must be denied the Eucharist.
LifeSiteNews.com asked Zwilling if Cardinal Dolan would be willing to consider taking this step with Governor Cuomo. The archdiocesan spokesman, however, did not answer the question and instead referred LSN to the statement provided to the Times.