Green v. Connally: Segregated Private Schools Denied Charitable Exemption/Deduction


In 1954 the United States Supreme Court handed down its historic decision onracial segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. The Court held that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and that state action in the form of laws expressly providing for racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

In the years since 1954 American courts have had to deal with various southern strategies designed to avoid or at least delay the transition demanded by Brown from segregated to integrated public schools. As a result, the progeny of Brown have extended the concept of state action, increased the pace of school desegregation from “all deliberate speed” to “immediate compliance” and held that the states and their school districts are under a present, continuing and affirmative duty to establish, in each school district, a single nonracial system of public schools.

The latest of southern strategies to emerge has been the establishment of racially segregated private academies by groups and individuals designed to provide a segregated alternative to the public schools’ integrated education. Like its predecessors this latest attempt at thwarting the Brown decision has fared poorly in the courts. In Green v. Connally, these institutions have been stripped of the tax exempt status which they formerly held under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; and, more importantly, contributions to these schools have been denied the status as tax deductions which they had enjoyed under section 170(c)(2) of the Code.

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