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Court Asked to Ban Schools' Tax Breaks

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In the first move in a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the granting of tax exemptions to private schools that discriminate on the basis of race, an attorney appointed by the Court argued that such benefits would be in violation of tax laws and the Constitution.

William T. Coleman Jr.--in a brief that he was invited by the Court to file in defense of a position previously abandoned by the federal government--said tax exemptions for discriminatory schools are "utterly inconsistent with federal law and fundamental national policy."

The case involves two schools, Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., and the Goldsboro Christian Schools in Mississippi, that are appealing a federal appeals-court decision against granting them the tax exemptions. The Justice Department, which had won the case against the schools under the Carter Administration, switched sides when the schools appealed to the Court last January. In an unusual step, the Reagan Administration last April also asked the Court to appoint an attorney to argue the Justice Department's former position.

A brief against the two schools was also filed by the National Association of Independent Schools, which argued that "the private-school world in general does not support racial discrimination."

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