Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

The Next Step in Progressive Totalitarianism?

[Cross-posted on The Corner]

A month ago, I took a stab at answering Ross Douthat’s questions about what awaits us down the path that progressivism wants to take this country. If any progressive has seriously contested my answers, I missed it.

One of my answers was that progressives believe that religious colleges (and other nonprofit institutions) that fail to embrace SSM should lose their tax-exempt status. Perhaps the most genuinely newsworthy item in today’s oral argument in the marriage cases was Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s candid acknowledgment that that’s “certainly going to be an issue.” Here’s the full exchange (Transcript, at 38:6-15):

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed  interracial marriage or interracial dating.* So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

General Verrilli: 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.

I hope that reporters will ask President Obama if he is going to direct or allow his Administration to deprive religious schools and other nonprofits of their tax-exempt status for holding the same view of marriage that he professed to hold when he was first elected president.

* More precisely: The Court held in the Bob Jones case that the Internal Revenue Service acted within its authority in revoking Bob Jones University’s tax-exempt status.

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