Texas Monthly Inc v. Bullock: Court Rules Against Exempting Religious Publications From State Taxes

Texas Monthly Inc v. Bullock: Court Rules Against Exempting Religious Publications From State Taxes

Justice William Brennan

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Argued: Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock — The Supreme Court will rule that exempting religious publications from the state sales tax in Texas violated the Establishment Clause. By restricting the tax exemption to religious groups, Texas has made each taxpayer a donor to those religions. Incidental and indirect benefits to religions and religious organizations is one thing and is acceptable, but the singling out of religion and religious organizations for special treatment is quite another.

Justice William Brennan writes in the majority opinion:

"It is difficult to view Texas' narrow exemption as anything but state sponsorship of religious belief, regardless of whether one adopts the perspective of beneficiaries or of uncompensated contributors. ...

While Texas is correct in pointing out that compliance with government regulations by religious organizations and the monitoring of their compliance by government agencies would itself enmesh the operations of church and state to some degree, we have found that such compliance would generally not impede the evangelical activities of religious groups and that the 'routine and factual inquiries' commonly associated with the enforcement of tax laws bear no resemblance to the kind of government surveillance the Court has previously held to pose an intolerable risk of government entanglement with religion."

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