WASHINGTON — The pro-Israel group Z Street has gotten a green light to go after the Internal Revenue Service.
In a politically charged case, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected Obama administration efforts to stop Z Street’s legal challenge. Instead, with a 34-page decision, Jackson is allowing Z Street to press ahead.
Z Street alleges that the IRS violated the First Amendment when it implemented a policy that subjected Israel-related organizations that are applying for tax-exempt status to more rigorous review procedures than other organizations applying for that same status. Z Street calls this viewpoint discrimination.
The organization, Jackson recounts, was incorporated as a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation in 2009, for the purpose of “educating the public about Zionism; about the facts relating to the Middle East and to the existence of Israel as a Jewish State; and about Israel’s right to refuse to
negotiate with, make concessions to, or appease terrorists.”
According to Z Street officials, an IRS agent told them that the IRS carefully scrutinizes all Section 501(c)(3) applications that are connected with Israel, and that these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office.
“Z Street merely asks the Court to require the IRS to go about it usual business of evaluating Section 501(c)(3) applications in a manner that comports with the Constitution,” Jackson wrote.
“The only matter at issue in the instant lawsuit is whether, in addition to evaluating Z Street’s activities as it would any other organization’s, the IRS may constitutionally apply a more stringent standard of review that is allegedly reserved for organizations whose activities relate to the promotion of Israe;,” Jackson added.