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Bob Jones University v. United States

Significance, Defining A Charity, Taxes And Religious Freedom, Private Institutions And Segregation, Further Readings


Bob Jones University


Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Petitioner's Claim

That as a non-profit educational institution, it was entitled to tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (IRC), and that the revocation of that status by the IRS--because of the school's policy of racial discrimination in admissions--constituted an abridgement of rights under the freedom of religion clauses of the First Amendment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

William G. McNairy

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Reynolds, U.S. Assistant Attorney General

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

24 May 1983


That the petitioner did not qualify as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3), because its policy of racial discrimination was a goal clearly in opposition to common law standards of charity, and the government's interest in eradicating racial discrimination outweighed whatever burden denial of tax exemption would place on the petitioner.

Related Cases

  • Perin v. Carey, 65 U.S. 465 (1861).
  • Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 296 (1944).
  • Green v. Connally, 330 F. Supp. 1150 (1970).
  • Coit v. Green, 404 U.S. 997 (1971).
  • Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976).
  • Goldsboro Christian Schools v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983).


Devins, Neal E. Public Values, Private Schools. New York: The Falmer Press, 1989.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988