Universities’ Tax Exemption at Risk

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

There is much more at stake in the debate over same-sex marriage than wedding cakes. Namely, the tax-exempt status of universities is now at risk.


“The most notable exchange during the argument last month in the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, Obergefell v. Hodges, likely occurred between Justice Samuel Alito and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli,” Terry Eastland writes in The Weekly Standard.

“Well, in the Bob Jones case,” Alito pointed out, “the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating.”

“In fact, as Alito and Verrilli of course know, what the Court held in Bob Jones was that the Internal Revenue Service acted within its authority in revoking the school’s tax-exempt status,” Eastland notes. Eastland is the executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

Back in the court, Alito asked Verrilli: “So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Eastland wrote, “That is, would the IRS be acting within its authority if it decided it could revoke the tax-exempt status of a school opposed to same-sex marriage?”

Verrilli’s answer: “You know, I—I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I—I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is—it is going to be an issue.”

Eastland observes, “What to make of that answer, which Verrilli has yet to clarify, and probably never will?” During the Reagan years, Eastland served as Director of Public Affairs for the Justice Department.