The United States Supreme Court rules that the federal government cannot grant tax exemptions to private schools that practice racial discrimination.
1983 (May 24)
The United States Supreme Court, in an 8–1 decision, ruled that the federal government cannot grant tax exemptions to private schools that practice racial discrimination. Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing for the majority, stated that "it would be wholly incompatible with the concepts underlying tax exemption to grant the benefit of tax exempt status to racially discriminatory educational entities.” Justice William H. Rehnquist was the lone dissenter. The Court's ruling upheld a policy of non-exemption for discriminatory private schools that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had adopted in 1971, but which the administration of President Ronald Reagan had tried to abandon in 1982. Under the original policy, Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, lost its tax-exempt status in 1975 because it prohibited interracial dating or marriage among its students, and the Goldsboro Christian Schools of Goldsboro, North Carolina, which refused to admit Blacks, also lost its tax-exempt status for 1969 through 1972. Both schools subsequently sued the IRS, but lost in both federal district and appellate courts. Both cases reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a lower court.