Bob Jones University V. United States - Background

Background

Because of its interpretation of Biblical principles regarding interracial dating, Bob Jones University completely excluded black applicants until 1971, and from 1971 until 1975, admitted black students only if they were married. After 1975, the University began to admit unmarried black applicants, but continued to deny "admission to applicants engaged in an interracial marriage or known to advocate interracial marriage or dating." The University also imposed a disciplinary rule that prohibited interracial dating.

Under pre-1970 IRS regulations, tax exemptions were awarded to private schools regardless of their racial admissions policies, and Bob Jones University was approved for a tax exemption under that policy. Pursuant to a 1970 revision to IRS regulations that limited tax-exempt status to private schools without racially discriminatory admissions policies, the IRS informed the University on November 30, 1970 that the IRS was planning on revoking its tax exempt status as a "religious, charitable . . . or educational" institution. In response, the University filed suit in 1971 in Bob Jones University v. Schultz.

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina granted a preliminary injunction, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed in 1973, citing the Anti-Injunction Act.

The University petitioned for a rehearing in the Appeals Court in Bob Jones University v. Connally. The Appeals Court ruled March 21, 1973, stating that Americans United v. Walters did not conflict with the decision in 1973.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision in Bob Jones University v. Simon (416 US 725). The case was decided May 15, 1974, in an 8-0 decision (Douglas not participating). They stated that there was a lack of proof of "irreparable injury." Justice Powell wrote the decision.

The IRS again notified the University on April 16, 1975 of the proposed revocation. Officially, the IRS revoked the University's tax exempt status on January 19, 1976. The University paid $21 in unemployment taxes for one employee for tax year 1975 and then filed for a refund in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. The Government counterclaimed for unpaid federal unemployment taxes for the taxable years 1971 through 1975, in the amount of $489,675.59, plus interest.

The District Court ruled December 26, 1978 that the IRS had violated the University's First Amendment rights, and ordered the IRS to refund the University the $21 of taxes that it had paid.

The United States Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit ruled that the case be sent back to the District Court

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