Tag Archives: legal news

IRS Controversy: What is a 501(c)(4) anyway?

Allegations of inappropriate IRS investigations of the tax status of “tea party” groups have put so-called 501(c)(4) groups in the headlines. Section 501 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (i.e. Title 26 of the U.S. Code) identifies many types of organizations exempt from most federal income taxation (with exceptions provided by certain other sections of this sub-chapter of the Code). Sub-section 501(c) lists out the types of exempted organizations. 501(c)(3) is the most well-known of these, and covers non-profit corporations including many charitable, religious, and educational institutions. Until recently 501(c)(4) has received far less public, political, or non-specialist legal attention. 501(c)(4) exempts “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” or certain kinds of local employee organizations.
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Marriage Cases

Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage after it was (briefly) made legal in that state. Tomorrow, the Court hears oral arguments in United States v. Windsor, which is a challenge brought to part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act by a widow who was required to pay estate taxes on her same-sex spouse’s inheritance, which would not have been owed had federal law recognized their marriage (which was conducted in Canada and legally recognized by their state of New York). Together, these are the celebrated same-sex marriage cases. While there are significant differences between the two, both come to the Court framed as equal protection cases.

Obviously, the cases are all over the news. But here are a few select news sources likely to be worth following — including within the next few hours as recaps of the Hollingsworth arguments begin to filter out. While all the usual opinion and general-interest outlets have commentary and analysis (some quite insightful) these are just places to turn for quick, newsy, takes and in some cases for links to deeper treatment.

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SOPA, PIPA, Anti-Piracy Legislation: Issue Backgrounder

This post also appears in a very similar form at lawlibrary.case.edu

The English-language Wikipedia is ‘dark’ today, in protest against a set of bills (nick-named SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate). These bills are intended to create new tools to address both the online commerce in copyright-infringing works and of counterfeit goods (i.e. both Copyright Act and Lanham Act violations). In particular, they aim to target the use of foreign-registered websites for “piracy,” although opponents point to several ways in which domestic websites can also be affected.

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ICANN and New Top-Level Domains

This post originally appeared in a very similar form on lawlibrary.case.edu. This version has received additional editing, mostly related to format and presentation more than to content itself.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has begun to accept applications to operate new “generic Top-Level Domains.” A “top-level” domain amounts to the right-most portion of a domain name, after the final dot. Venerable examples of “generic” top-level domains include .com, .edu, .net, and .org. Applicants are to propose new TLDs while applying to be the entity that will maintain a registry of that nominated domain. Unlike previous additions of new TLDs, the new policy does not merely envision a specific one-time expansion of the namespace, but instead creates a policy mechanism for continued, possibly rapid, expansion of the number of TLDs in use.

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