Probably you've gotten that sinking feeling when a person in authority, maybe your parent or a teacher, looked at you incredulously and asked, “You don’t really mean that, right?" It's a rhetorical question. Of course the speaker understands that you do mean it but finds your grasp of the matter under discussion to be patently idiotic. It's a polite way of say "you're full of shit." If you remember the blow that was to your self esteem imagine the ego crushing trauma it would have been if you had been a lawyer and the speaker was an appellate court judge. “You don’t really mean that, right?"
The TaxProf Blog has the entire story along with the legal analysis but I thought it was worth relaying just how lame the IRS' defense is in the case concerning it's hostility toward the pro Israel group, Z Street. Readers will remember that Z Street was denied tax exempt status because the IRS candidly admitted its views were at odds with the Obama administration's. It sued but the IRS is attempting to block discovery that will most certainly be embarrassing to the IRS and the Obama administration. The case is now in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Part of the IRS defense was a section of the IRS code that barred a lawsuit unless the IRS failed to act for 270 days. The IRS contended that the suit should be foreclosed. The court did not buy that and made the point that the plaintiff was not suing for tax exempt status but rather was suing on grounds that the IRS can’t discriminate based on point of view.
The idea that it was all right to discriminate as long as it didn't go on for more than 270 days was too much for Judge Merrick Garland.
“You don’t really mean that, right? Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?” Judge Garland said. “Imagine the IRS announces today a policy that says as follows: No application by a Jewish group or an African-American group will be considered until one day short of the period under the statute . . . Is it your view that that cannot be challenged?”
And it didn't get better after that. Judge Garland stated that the court had just heard a similar case and had rejected every argument the government was making. “so in a way we have already decided every issue before us today, against you.” ...