The James Madison Center filed two federal lawsuits on Friday, April 3, 2009, to challenge the IRS definition of "political intervention," which has been used by the IRS to stifle the legitimate speech activities of many non-profit organizations.
For decades the IRS has applied an "all the facts and circumstances" test to the grass roots lobbying, issue advocacy and voter education activity of non-profits to determine if the non-profit has actually engaged in prohibited political activity. Furthermore, this vague IRS test has been exploited by some liberal groups to threaten and harass churches and other non-profits, causing many of them to be fearful of IRS retribution if they discussed moral or public policy issues. Non-profits have even shied away from legitimate grass roots lobbying activity in fear that it will be considered political intervention. As a result, the legitimate speech activities of many non-profits have been chilled and their free speech rights infringed.