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The focus on the political consequences of the Internal Revenue Service scandal has overshadowed a troubling reality that a federal agency targeted specific groups of people for discriminatory treatment. In singling out conservative groups, the IRS reminded us that the McCarthy-era Red Scare is not the distant memory many would like to believe. However, the media’s uniform condemnation of this conduct demonstrates how the world has changed since then. People do not quietly allow government abuses to occur. This political backlash may be responsible in part for the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into the IRS’s actions. Civil lawsuits are being filed by affected groups. The critical question is what legal remedies are available to organizations singled out by the government for discriminatory treatment.

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