WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Oct. 26 that the U.S. Department of Justice has settled with two tax-exempt-status groups that were delayed by the Internal Revenue Service based on inappropriate criteria.

Linchpins of Liberty v. United States involved 41 plaintiffs. NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service, a class action suit, included 428 members.

“Chief Justice John Marshall wrote 'that the power to tax involves the power to destroy … [is] not to be denied.' And it should also be without question that our First Amendment prohibits the federal government from treating groups differently based solely on their viewpoint or ideology,” Sessions wrote in a statement.

According to Sessions, the Obama administrations used inappropriate criteria to screen applications for 501(c) status, delaying organizations with names such as “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” or “9/12.” Additionally, organizations focused on government spending or taxes were allegedly delayed.

“It is also clear these criteria disproportionately impacted conservative groups,” Sessions wrote. “As a result of these criteria, the IRS transferred hundreds of applications to a specifically designated group of IRS agents for additional levels of review, questioning and delay.  In many instances, the IRS then requested highly sensitive information from applicants, such as donor information, that was not needed to make a determination of tax-exempt status.”

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