maule at LAW.VILLANOVA.EDU
Wed Nov 21 17:14:10 PST 2001
I assume you're raising this as a First Amendment issue? Or are you raising it as a tax policy issue?
In other words, if it is permissible to restrict the speech of all tax-exempt organizations (do organizations have First Amendment rights? Or do we look through to the membership and consider the restriction to be a restriction on the members? Even though the members can speak in their individual capacity without affecting the organization's status?), then is there a problem in restricting non-religious tax exempt organizations and not restricting religious ones? Isn't that another variation of the EC v. FE clause tension?
Assuming it is Constitutionally permissible to restrict non-religious organizations and not religious ones, does this make good policy sense? Just because it can be done doesn't mean it should. If the opinions of clergy are important, why not the opinions of other organizations that are no less involved in social issues?
A tidbit: Bruce Hopkins (the foremost national expert on the tax-exempt organization issues) says this in his 2d ed. of The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations about the restriction: "This proposal was made in an attempt to curb the activities of a private foundation in Texas that Senator Johnson believed had provided indirect financial support to his opponent in an election." No cites given. (It's interesting how many tax provisions have their origins in some isolated incident.....)
Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law
Villanova PA 19085
maule at law.villanova.edu
President, TaxJEM Inc (computer assisted tax law instruction) (www.taxjem.com)
Publisher, JEMBook Publishing Co. (www.jembook.com)
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>>> volokh at MAIL.LAW.UCLA.EDU 11/21/01 03:45PM >>>
Why shouldn't the leader of a nonreligious association (ACLU, NRA, etc.)
likewise be able to tell his members that a politician's position is
inconsitent with the association's beliefs ("e.g., you should not vote for a
known violator of civil rights"), without losing the exemption?
> I thought Congress was going to repeal the law that Johnson got passed
> before he was president.
> A preacher should be able to tell the congregation that a politician's
> position is inconsistent with the religious organization's belief without
> losing the exemption.
> e.g. "You should not vote for a known sinner. Adultery is a sin and Joe
> Shmoe has committed adultery."
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