Bob Jones University v. Connally, Civ. A. No. 71-891.

Decision Date17 November 1971
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 71-891.
Citation341 F. Supp. 277
PartiesBOB JONES UNIVERSITY, Plaintiff, v. John B. CONNALLY, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and Johnnie M. Walters, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Carolina

J. D. Todd, Jr., Wesley M. Walker, O. Jack Taylor, Jr., Greenville, S. C., for plaintiff.

John K. Grisso, U. S. Atty., Greenville, S. C., Stanley F. Krysa, Atty., U. S. Justice Dept., for defendants.


SIMONS, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon plaintiff's Complaint seeking an injunction pendente lite, and upon defendant's Motion to Dismiss plaintiff's Complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

The court received briefs and heard arguments on October 4, 1971, with regard to both the Motions. From the Complaint, affidavits and supporting documents, and the deposition of William H. Connett, Assistant to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and from a study of statutory provisions, rules and regulations and authorities involved, the court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.


1. Bob Jones University is an eleemosynary corporation, organized and granted its certificate of incorporation on November 20, 1952. The University's predecessor was known as Bob Jones College, which was founded near Panama City, Florida, in 1926. The plaintiff was originally founded and has continued to exist as a fundamentalistic, religious organization which has chosen the field of education, principally at the college level, as the vehicle through which to teach and promulgate its fundamentalistic religious beliefs. The creed of the college as originally founded and the purpose clause of its charter is as follows:

The general nature and object of the corporation shall be to conduct an institution of learning for the general education of youth in the essentials of culture and in the arts and sciences, giving special emphasis to the Christian religion and the ethics revealed in the Holy Scriptures; combatting all atheistic, agnostic, pagan, and so-called scientific adulterations of the Gospel; unqualifiedly affirming and teaching the inspiration of the Bible (both the Old and the New Testaments); the creation of man by the direct act of God; the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; His identification as the Son of God; His vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of His blood on the cross; the resurrection of His body from the tomb; His power to save men from sin; the new birth through the regeneration by the Holy Spirit; and the gift of eternal life by the grace of God.1

2. It further appears from the affidavit of Dr. Bob Jones, III, President of the University, as well as from the affidavits of Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., Chairman of the Board, and Dr. R. K. Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer and Business Manager, that the University's fundamentalistic religious beliefs and practices include the belief and principle that God intended that the various races of men should live separate and apart, and that the inter-marriage of different races is contrary to the will of God, and to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. In keeping with this religious belief and principle, the University has adopted an admissions policy prohibiting the admission of black students to the University.2 The plaintiff has also adopted a rule prohibiting its students from dating or marrying members of another race, whether students or not. Violation of this rule results in expulsion from the University. The University believes it would be impossible to enforce that rule if the University were to adopt a racially nondiscriminatory admissions policy (affidavit of Dr. Bob Jones, III). The University requires all students to attend daily chapel services at which the religious views and principles of the University are taught, and all classes and meetings held under the University sponsorship are begun and ended with prayer. All students, with inconsequential exceptions, are required to take courses in religion each semester. All faculty members are required to teach and adhere to the religious beliefs and principles of the school, and any member of the faculty or member of the student body teaching or promoting religious beliefs contrary to those of the University is subject to dismissal. The admissions standards of the University relate not only to academic achievement but also to the religious convictions of a given applicant as well. The University does not now accept, and has not in the past accepted, federal or state grants in aid, nor does it participate in any programs financed by the federal or state governments because the University apparently understands that if it did so it would be required to adopt a racially nondiscriminatory admissions policy which would be contrary to its religious beliefs and practices.

3. The University has apparently enjoyed tax exempt status since its formation, although the records of the University do not go back that far in this regard. The record contains a letter dated March 30, 1951,3 received by the University from the then Deputy Commissioner, advising that it qualified as a tax exempt organization, which also referred to a similar ruling of April 30, 1942. The record substantiates that there has been no significant change in the University's practices, principles, or policies since that date.

4. News releases of the Internal Revenue Service issued on July 10 and July 19, 1970, constituted the first threat to the University's tax exempt status. Thereafter the University received a letter of inquiry from the District Director of Internal Revenue requesting information concerning the admissions policies of the University with regard to race. A copy of that letter is attached to the affidavit of Dr. Bob Jones, III. The University's reply was in the form of a letter dated December 30, 1970, which is attached to the affidavit of Mr. William H. Connett. During 1971 various conferences and discussions were held between officials of the Internal Revenue Service, including former Commissioner Randolph W. Thrower, and the present Commissioner, Johnnie M. Walters, and attorneys for the plaintiff. These discussions culminated on or about September 8, 1971, when counsel for the plaintiff concluded that a clear threat existed that the University's status as a tax exempt organization was about to be revoked, and that the advance assurance of deductibility of contributions previously given by the Internal Revenue Service to its contributors was about to be withdrawn.

5. The following day, September 9, 1971, the plaintiff instituted this action, alleging that this threatened action would inflict irreparable harm upon the University, that such threatened action was unlawful in that it exceeded the authority vested in the defendants by Congress, was contrary to the provisions of § 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and would be in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Plaintiff, accordingly, requested temporary and permanent injunctive relief from this court.

6. One of the grounds urged by defendants in support of their Motion to Dismiss is that plaintiff has not exhausted the administrative remedies available to it under Revenue Procedures 68-17 and 69-3. Mr. Connett's affidavit sets forth the administrative procedures which would be employed were this court not to grant injunctive relief. However, from his affidavit and deposition it appears that there remains very little doubt as to the ultimate loss of plaintiff's tax exempt status. In his deposition Mr. Connett states that plaintiff's tax exempt status would be revoked under the existing law, unless the plaintiff chose to change its admissions policy to comply with the requirements of the IRS and admit black students on a nondiscriminatory basis.4 It is thus concluded that any attempt by the plaintiff to follow these administrative procedures would most probably be a useless act, inasmuch as the decision to revoke the tax exempt status of any organization not willing to adopt a racially nondiscriminatory admissions policy apparently has already been made by the Washington Office of the Internal Revenue Service.

A review of the procedures outlined in Mr. Connett's affidavit indicates that by subjecting itself to these procedures the plaintiff would likely suffer irreparable damage. Mr. Connett reveals a sequential process by which, first, advanced assurance of deductibility of contributions would be withdrawn, and second, the University would be denied tax exempt status and then taxes assessed and collected. Undoubtedly a period of many months would elapse between the time that advanced assurance of deductibility of contributions would be withdrawn and a tax finally assessed and collected, thus requiring redress in the courts pursuant to 26 U.S.C.A. § 6213; 28 U.S.C. A. §§ 1346(a) (1), 1491; 26 U.S.C.A. §§ 6532, 7452. It is to be expected that while the Internal Revenue Service is conducting administrative conferences leading to the assessment and collection of a tax, the plaintiff's contributions, upon which it relies heavily, would be curtailed, if not eliminated altogether. Under these circumstances these administrative procedures would serve no useful purpose.

The plaintiff would likely suffer irreparable harm if the threatened action is not enjoined. Plaintiff submitted, in addition to the affidavits previously referred to, the affidavit of another of its counsel, O. Jack Taylor, Jr.; John E. Fowler, C.P.A., employed by the University for the past twenty-five years or more; Jo Ann Hatcher, donations secretary to the University; and affidavits from ten of its contributors. The force and effect of these affidavits is as one might expect: the financial lifeblood of the University to a substantial extent is dependent upon...

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7 cases
  • Bob Jones University v. Simon 8212 1470
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • May 15, 1974 status and from withdrawing advance assurance of the deductibility of contributions made to petitioner. Bob Jones University v. Connally, 341 F.Supp. 277 (1971). The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, with one judge dissenting. 472 F.2d 903, reh. den., 476 F.2d 259......
  • Jackson v. Statler Foundation
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • December 4, 1973
    ...(1973); Marker, supra, 485 F.2d at 1006, n. 4; McGlotten, supra, 338 F.Supp. at 456, n. 37 and 459, n. 58; Bob Jones University v. Connally, 341 F.Supp. 277, 281 (D.S.C. 1971), rev'd on other grounds, 472 F.2d 903, 906 (4th Cir. 1973), cert. granted, 414 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 116, 38 L.Ed.2d 4......
  • " AMERICANS UNITED" INC. v. Walters
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • January 11, 1973
    ...threatened to remove the tax exempt status of an organization because of racially discriminatory policies, is Bob Jones University v. Connally, 341 F. Supp. 277 (D.S.C.1971). Fearing that a drop in its level of contributions would cause irreparable harm, the University sought a preliminary ......
  • Sierra Club v. Hickel
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • September 22, 1972
    ...available to other executants of public policies committed to their care by the Congress." To the same effect, Bob Jones University v. Connally, 341 F.Supp. 277, 284 (D.S.C.1971): "It has long been recognized that the sovereign cannot act illegally or unconstitutionally and, therefore, if a......
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