The Department of Justice may have let Lois Lerner off the hook, but a judge has ordered the IRS to release the names of the Tea Party groups that were singled out for scrutiny.

Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times:

Judge orders IRS to release list of tea party groups targeted for scrutiny

A federal judge ordered the IRS this week to turn over the list of 298 groups it targeted for intrusive scrutiny as the agency defends against a potential class-action lawsuit by tea party groups who claim their constitutional rights were violated.

The IRS had argued it shouldn’t have to release the names because doing do would violate privacy laws, but Judge Susan J. Dlott, who sits in the Southern District of Ohio, rejected that claim and ordered the tax agency to turn over any lists or spreadsheets detailing the groups that were targeted and when they filed their applications.

Judge Dlott also ordered the IRS to say whether a partial list of targeted groups reported by USA Today is authentic as a number of tea party groups try to win certification for a class action lawsuit against the IRS.

The great Jazz Shaw of Hot Air has more:

Judge orders IRS to release list of targeted conservative nonprofit groups

There are several layers to this particular onion. The White House fought back from day one against any such disclosures, saying that releasing the requested information would require exposing private data which the IRS is forbidden to reveal. But that’s only intended to protect individuals, businesses and groups from having all the particulars about their internal business exposed, not the simple fact that they exist and pay taxes. In this suit, rather than asking for all of the numbers, the IRS is simply being asked to provide a spreadsheet containing the identities of the groups under scrutiny. The judge agreed that the case couldn’t be decided without that bare minimum data.

More interesting are the possibilities which follow if the data finally comes to light. If the groups can establish that they all fall under the same umbrella of potential discrimination, they can be bound together in a class action suit. This opens up a range of possibilities, including the hope that the secretive agency will be forced to expose their practices to the public.

I still enjoy wondering how different this would be if it happened on Bush’s watch.

Do you think the media might be more interested?