The IRS' stunning admission that it singled out Tea Party groups for more aggressive tax enforcement should be a warning to all Americans to guard their free speech rights jealously, ACLU officials Michael Macleod-Ball and Gabe Rottman write for CNN. There's been a rush to regulate political speech since the "much-vilified" Citizens United v. FEC ruling, but this case shows "why giving the government too much power to limit political speech will inevitably result in selective enforcement against unpopular groups."
The IRS says this was an honest mistake, borne of the pressure—which is coming mostly from the left—to uncover "sham" 501(c)(4) charities. But it's an instructive mistake. There are proposals in Washington now that would make it easier for the IRS and others to regulate political groups. The ACLU has expressed concern "precisely because they open the door to selective enforcement" like this. "It shouldn't need to be said: Even the tea party deserves First Amendment protection," they say. Click for their full column.