The US Department of Justice has issued a 57-page response to the filing of a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction by the James Bopp FATCA repeal legal team. The DOJ’s argument begins as follows:
Plaintiffs seek an extraordinary order that would halt enforcement of several duly enacted statutory provisions, along with associated regulations and implementing international agreements, aimed at curbing offshore tax evasion. The challenged laws are essential to tax enforcement, and the injuries that plaintiffs allege they have suffered as a result of such laws are self-inflicted, speculative, or even illusory. Plaintiffs’ claims for relief fail for lack of Article III standing, are jurisdictionally barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, and are meritless as a matter of well-established constitutional law. The preliminary injunction should be denied because plaintiffs have no likelihood of success on the merits and have no irreparable injury—certainly none to outweigh the great harm that the Government, and public interest in general, would suffer if enforcement of these laws were enjoined.
Here, again, is the complete DOJ document: DEFENDANT’S MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
It is obvious that victim blaming is, and will continue to be, a central tactic of this Administration, as it is finally put on the defensive and forced to justify its outrageously discriminatory and immoral FATCA campaign. Now may be a good time to remind ourselves of the essential characteristics and dynamics of victim blaming, which easily scale from the most primal one-on-one bullying to the systematic targeting and abuse of entire groups by the state. Here are a couple of good references to start with:
Victim-blaming is a phenomenon that has been happening since at least the beginning of recorded history but has only recently been identified as a dynamic used to empower the criminal and maintain the status quo. Victim-blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or abuse is held partly or entirely responsible for the actions committed against them. In other words, the victims are held accountable for the maltreatment they have been subjected to. Perpetrators of crimes for which they blame the victim commonly enjoy a privileged social status opposite the victim, and their blame typically involves use of stereotypical negative words. The phenomenon of victim blaming is thus common in hate crimes, discrimination, rape and bullying. The main motivation for people to victim-blame is to justify abuse or social injustice. However, it is not only the perpetrator who engages in the victim-blaming. Perpetrators, bystanders and society and even the victims themselves practice and enforce victim-blaming. Each group of people who blames the victim does so for different reasons based on their power or lack thereof, self-defense and desire to find logical reasons for abuse or social injustice.
William Ryan coined the phrase “blaming the victim” in his book Blaming the Victim in 1971, as a response to years of oppression and the civil rights movement. He describes victim- blaming as a way to preserve the interest of the privileged group in power (Zur). Since then, advocates for crime victims, particularly those of rape, have adopted the phrase. Although Ryan coined the phrase, the phenomenon is well developed in psychology and history. As previously stated, victim-blaming has been happening at least since the beginning of recorded history. There are many examples of victim-blaming in the Old Testament regarding tragedies justified by blaming the victims as sinners (Robinson 141). Unfortunately, victim-blaming is still rampant today and has only recently been identified as problematic.
Victim blaming is not just about avoiding culpability—it’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When bad things happen to good people, it implies that no one is safe, that no matter how good we are, we too could be vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought, and yet we are faced every day with evidence that it may be true.
In the 1960s, social psychologist Dr. Melvin Lerner conducted a famous serious of studies in which he found that when participants observed another person receiving electric shocks and were unable to intervene, they began to derogate the victims. The more unfair and severe the suffering appeared to be, the greater the derogation. Follow up studies found that a similar phenomenon occurs when people evaluate victims of car accidents, rape, domestic violence, illness, and poverty. Research conducted by Dr. Ronnie Janoff-Bulman suggests that victims sometimes even derogate themselves, locating the cause of their suffering in their own behavior, but not in their enduring characteristics, in an effort to make negative events seem more controllable and therefore more avoidable in the future.
Lerner theorized that these victim blaming tendencies are rooted in the belief in a just world, a world where actions have predictable consequences and people can control what happens to them. It is captured in common phrases like “what goes around comes around” and “you reap what you sow.” We want to believe that justice will come to wrongdoers, whereas good, honest people who follow the rules will be rewarded. Research has found, not surprisingly, that people who believe that the world is a just place are happier and less depressed.
But this happiness may come at a cost—it may reduce our empathy for those who are suffering, and we may even contribute to their suffering by increasing stigmatization. So is the only alternative to belief in a just world a sense of helplessness and depression? Not at all. People can believe that the world is full of injustice but also believe that they are capable of making the world a more just place through their own actions. One way to help make the world a better place to fight the impulse to rationalize others’ suffering, and to recognize that it could have just as soon been us in their shoes. This recognition can be unsettling, but it may also be the only way that we can truly open our hearts to others’ suffering and help them feel supported and less alone. What the world may lack in justice we can at least try to make up for in compassion.