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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Is the IRS scandal the ultimate test of the Constitution's checks and balances?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Congress,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Supreme Court,IRS,Federalist Papers,James Madison,Scandals

Two federal judges acting within 24 hours of each other last Thursday and Friday served notice on the IRS that it's time to pay up.

In doing so, U.S. District Court Judges Emmet G.Sullivan and Reggie Walton have set up what may prove to be the ultimate test of the Constitution's checks and balances system.

Sullivan and Walton both serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Both are well-known as no-nonsense judges who are not to be trifled with.

You've got one month

Sullivan's decision came on Thursday and it was a shocker. Sullivan ordered the IRS to come back to his courtroom not later than 30 days hence with a signed and sworn affidavit.

That affidavit is to explain in detail how emails to and from former IRS senior executive Lois Lerner concerning targeting of Tea Party and conservative nonprofit applicants were allegedly lost.

Sullivan also ordered lawyers for the IRS and Judicial Watch, which brought the suit at issue in the case, to meet in September before "Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, an expert in electronic discovery, to determine other avenues to recover the emails," according to the Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten.

Actually, you only have one week

In the Friday ruling, Walton gave the federal tax agency one week to come back to his courtroom with a signed affidavit explaining why the allegedly lost hard drive on Lerner's government computer "cannot be identified and preserved."

Walton also directed that the affidavit explain the qualifications of the IRS inspector general investigators probing the lost hard drive and provide a completion date for their work.

The Walton decree came in a lawsuit filed against the government by True the Vote, one of the Tea Party nonprofit applicants targeted by the IRS for illegal harassment.

No way out

“These extraordinary court rulings are key steps in unraveling the Obama IRS's ongoing cover up of its abuses against critics of this administration,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said after the hearings.

Between them, Sullivan and Walton have punctured the IRS coverup of Lerner's actions and her cohorts within and without the tax agency in the targeting during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns.

With the two rulings and the House of Representatives' earlier this year declaring Lerner in contempt of Congress, the two branches are combining forces against the executive branch.

Ultimate test of checks and balances

The credibility of Congress and the courts thus now depends upon their successfully exposing the truth about the IRS scandal and punishing those responsible.

If they fail, the executive branch will be effectively liberated from constitutional restraint. Thus, the IRS scandal has now become the ultimate test of the Founders' faith in checks and balances as a bulwark against tyranny.

This would not surprise James Madison, the great proponent of checks and balances, who suggested in Federalist #51 that such a combination of two defending branches supporting "the constitutional rights of the former, without being too much detached from the rights of its own department" as a substitute for the Constitution not giving any one branch an "absolute negative" on either of the other two.

In other words, the system is working in the IRS scandal as the Founders intended.

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

Monday Editorial: Get ready for even higher health insurance premiums.

Sunday Editorial: EPA has no business garnishing wages without due process.

Watchdog/Mark Tapscott: Federal judge gives IRS one week to explain lost Lerner hard drive.

Watchdog/Kelly Cohen: This Energy Department blunder cost taxpayers $56 million.

Columnists/James Jay Carafano: Illegal immigrants ignore U.S. immigration laws because Obama won't enforce them.

Columnist/Hugh Hewitt: Like Cleveland, Mitt Romney may be on a comeback.

Columnists/Michael Barone: Obama pays a price for inaction on immigration law.

Columnists/Star Parker: Hobby Lobby decision has made America more free.

Columnists/Timothy P. Carney: Why lobbying is a dud for most companies, but benefits their CEOs.

Beltway Confidential/Michael Barone: Political fallout from underage illegal immigrants may spread far from Rio Grande Valley.

Beltway Confidential/Ashe Schow: The GOP plan to change the "war on women" narrative needs work.

PennAve/David M. Drucker: Why Sen. Mark Begich still hasn't gotten a Senate vote on any of his amendments.

Legal Newsline/Staff writer: Washington AG obtains reversal of electricity rate charges.

Video/Morning Examiner: Morning Examiner with Steve Doty for July 14.

In other news

The Washington Post: Russia warns Ukraine of "irreversible consequences" after cross-border shelling.

The New York Times: After lapses, CDC admits lax laboratory culture.

CBS News: Citibank expected to pay $7 billion settlement for role in 2008 financial crisis.

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: Dick and Liz Cheney on the truth about Iraq.

National Review Online: The danger zone.

The American Spectator: Defending Washington 50 years after the War of 1812.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: North Caroline shows why extending unemployment benefits doesn't work.

Lefty Playbook

The Daily Beast: These undocumented teens outsmarted MIT, but still can't get jobs.

The American Prospect: Minimum wage for tipped workers hasn't risen since Soviet Union fell.

The New Republic: Here's definitive proof Republicans don't care about the long-term unemployed.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: Republicans are why our immigration courts can't handle the child migrant crisis.

Blog Right

Yid With Lid: Attack on Paris synagogue with cries of "death to the Jews."

Blue Collar Perspective: Climbing the Green Energy billionaire stalk.

Powerline: On global warming, follow the money.

Blog Left

Talking Points Memo: The one big problem the GOP may have with its lawsuit against Obama.

Slate: You don't have to move to Scandinavia.

FDL: You'd think he would already know they are called "Sam's Club."

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Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner

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