Ben Johnson

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‘Illegal’ IRS harassment of pro-lifers continued to this day, 250 pages of evidence say

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite pledges to “get to the bottom” of the IRS harassment of Tea Party groups, pro-life activists, and Christians, the tax agency continued to ask inappropriate questions, allow interminable delays, and engage in “illegal” tactics, according to substantial evidence presented by a legal watchdog group.

The Thomas More Society submitted a new memo and 250 pages of additional evidence to Congressman Aaron Schock, R-IL, today.

The Chicago-based law firm had delivered a different 150-page memo to Rep. Schock in May, showing that the IRS asked such probing questions of one of the Society's clients, the Coalition of Life for Iowa, as, “Please detail the content of the members of your organization's prayers.”

The new evidence shows the agency has not reformed, using the same methods to deny or delay tax-exempt recognition to pro-life groups from 2009 until the present day.

“Even after public disclosure of this wrongdoing, the Obama administration’s IRS has refused to cease its illegal activity,” said Peter Breen, the society's vice president and senior counsel.

The 250-page exhibit involves three of the firm's client organizations: Cherish Life Ministries, LIFE Group, and Emerald Coast Coalition for Life.

Two of them, Cherish Life and LIFE Group, had multiple similarities:

  • Both were contacted by “Mrs. R. Medley” of the Cincinnati office of the IRS;

  • Both received identical denial letters on the same day, April 8;

  • Both were asked how much time they would spend being a “presence” in front of abortion facilities; and

  • Both were asked if they would present a competing view alongside the pro-life view.

For instance, Medley asked the LIFE Group on February 2, “Does your organization provide information regarding other alternatives to 'pro-life'? If so please indicate where.”

The group responded on February 15, “Any alternatives to pro-life would run directly contrary to the organization's beliefs, mission, and purpose…The ultimate purpose is to save the lives of both the mother and the child in a life-affirming way.”

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The question outraged Peter Shinn when an agent asked him by phone. “Do you think that Planned Parenthood teaches pro-life?” he told LifeSiteNews.com in May. “I don’t think so.”

The IRS seemed keen to learn whether the right to life groups would standing in front of abortion facilities, asking all three the extent of their involvement outside such offices.

On June 19, IRS agent Tyrone Thomas asked ECCL, “Will you promote demonstrations and/or rallies at clinic and/or hospitals to stop abortions in your community? If yes, Please [sic] explain.”

However, nothing in the tax code prevents peaceful assembly or prayer.

After enduring months of harassing treatment, all three groups received the legal assistance of Sally Wagenmaker, special counsel at the Thomas More Society.

When Wagenmaker asked Medley why she asked unauthorized questions of Peter Shinn, the agent tried asked the same questions of the lawyer.

“First, Mrs. Medley asked more questions about the organization's activities, particularly whether CLM would have a 'continuous presence in front of abortion mills,'” Wagenmaker wrote. “I asked her about why, if that were true, that would be a problem given the CLM’s participants’ First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech, and religious liberty. She would not respond.”

Upon hearing the same line of questioning in the ECCL case, Wagenmaker wrote IRS officials on July 9, “Frankly, most of your questions do not appear to be warranted here.”

Both CLM and LG ultimately received 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. However, all three groups have experienced bureaucratic foot-dragging, as agents sometimes did not contact the organization for nine months at a time.

LG, best known for running alongside highways with t-shirts that bear a pro-life message as LIFE Runners, waited 15 months for its application to be approved. CLM's petition lingered with the agency for 16 months.

ECCL has waited 14 months and has not yet received the tax authorization to which Wagenmaker says it is entitled.

“We have now produced irrefutable evidence of six clients whose First Amendment rights were trampled upon by the IRS because of their position upholding the sanctity of life,” Breen said this afternoon.

Although the Obama administration's defenders have tried to portray this action as confined to “rogue agents” in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, the six groups had also received such treatment from agents in Chicago, and El Monte, California.

One of the agents who wrote to ECCL was Lois Lerner, who oversaw whether non-profits were granted tax-exempt status. Lerner, who had a history of harassing Christian organizations in the Federal Election Commission, has since been placed on administrative leave.

When called before Congressional investigators, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination – but prefaced the motion by saying she was innocent.

Congressmen believe such a statement invalidates the Fifth Amendment's protection. She is now asking for immunity before testifying before the body. 


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LifeSiteNews staff

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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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