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 For Immediate Release
Apr 2, 1999 Contact: Press Office
202-646-5172


CLINTON JUDICIAL APPOINTEE REMOVES TAX EXEMPT STATUS OF CHURCH FOR CRITICIZING CLINTON DURING ELECTION

Judicial Watch To Intervene In Appeal To Defend Religious Freedom


(Washington, April 2) Judge Paul Friedman, who was appointed by President Clinton to the federal bench in Washington, DC, has sustained a decision by the Clinton-run Internal Revenue Service to remove the tax exempt status of a Christian church that had placed newspaper advertisements critical of Bill Clintonís moral views and policies. At the time of Clintonís IRS decision, tens of groups critical of Clinton were subject to IRS audits. Many other IRS audits of Clinton critics followed.

The ruling comes at a time when some religious groups are deciding how to participate in public policy debates during the 2000 elections, and as issues of abortion, gay rights, and morality become even more pronounced Ė especially given the Clinton-Lewinsky scandalís destructive impact on Judeo-Christian values.

Judge Friedman is the same federal judge who presides over the Clinton/Gore-endorsed Sidney Blumenthal libel suit against Matt Drudge Ė calling Drudge not a journalist but "a purveyor of gossip." He also recently issued the landmark decision that foreign political "soft money" contributions (i.e., from Communist China) to the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee are not illegal. One implication of that astonishing ruling is that a president can solicit and accept soft money contributions from Chinaís Peopleís Liberation Army. Judge Friedman has also recently dismissed large portions of indictments of key figures in the Clinton-Chinagate scandal.

"Judicial Watch will intervene at the appeals court level to challenge Judge Friedmanís latest decision to allow the Clinton IRS to revoke the tax status of Christian church based on its criticism of the morality of Clintonís views and policy during the 1992 election and for having asked a rhetorical question about how Christians could vote for such a man. It is the position of Judicial Watch that religious institutions have an inalienable right to express moral criticism of politicians under the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution generally," stated Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch President. "Judge Friedmanís ruling guts the First Amendment, undermining religious freedom. We will do everything we can to help overturn it."

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