For The Record

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William Bradford Reynolds, U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights, responding to reporters' questions on the ABC News program "This Week With David Brinkley" on May 29:

Discriminatory schools

Q. Mr. Reynolds, on the question of these two schools in the South, the Goldsboro Christian Academy and Bob Jones University, weren't they clearly discriminating against blacks?

A. Well, I think that the schools did have policies of racial discrimination and this Administration unequivocally came out against tax exemptions for private schools that practice racial discrimination, and it was never an issue in the case that was before the Supreme Court. What concerned the Administration and what was the real issue before the Court was whether Congress had delegated to the irs full and unfettered authority to determine what, as a matter of public policy, would or would not justify tax exemption.

We felt and were very concerned that if you were to read the existing law as a delegation of authority to the irs that would allow it to make that determination, that you would have such things as the irs making a decision on tax exemptions with regard to whether all-girl or all-boy high schools were indeed within the public interest; whether religious institutions that backed the nuclear freeze would be allowed or denied a tax exemption because in the irs's view that was something that was in the public benefit or against it; whether a hospital that would grant abortions, or deny abortions, for that matter, would be something that the irs would now be able, on its own without anybody checking it, to determine based on--to have a tax exemption or not to have a tax exemption.

Our view was that those are public-policy determinations for Congress to make. It turns out that the Court decided, one, that Congress had delegated all that responsibility to the irs, and it will now be the irs who will have the authority to make those public policy decisions. The immediate effect on that with regard to the schools that--the two schools that you mentioned--was one that the Administration has never had a problem with and never quarreled with. We think those schools should be denied a tax-exempt status. The long-term ramifications of that, I think are fairly ominous and they will require some continued scrutiny.

Q. Then perhaps the President is right. We really did misunderstand him in that he really wasn't in favor of grantng Bob Jones University a tax exemption. Is that what you are saying?

A. The President certainly was not in favor of that. In fact, he sent legislation up to [Capitol] Hill asking Congress to pass a law that would specifically deny tax exemptions to private schools that practice racial discrimination. And he has been on record before his election and certainly after his election unequivocally against those kinds of schools getting tax exemptions.

School Busing

Q. The Supreme Court now has said that busing may be one tool to be used to help desegregate a previously segregated school system, de facto as well as de jure. Is it not a fact that you have not filed a single school desegregation case since the Reagan Administration came to office? Why not?

A. Well, we have inherited four cases that just at the eleventh hour were filed when the prior Administration left office. We have been litigating vigorously. We have two other cases. ...

Q. There are no districts now that need desegregating?

A. Absolutely not. There are two other cases that have been authorized for filing and we are negotiating with the school districts. There are eight other investigations that we have underway. We are in the middle of enforcing ongoing cases that were inherited that involve busing.

Q. But I am correct, am I not, you have not filed a single new case? I mean, correct me if I am wrong.

A. I believe that we have, at this juncture, we have not filed a new case. We have authorized two. The comparable period of time for the prior Administration, they had filed two cases, so I am not sure that the numbers are not something that really translate into anything of significance. I think the point is, are we involved in litigating school desegregation cases energetically, vigorously, and effectively, and we certainly are doing that, and we can show it both in terms of the number of cases that we are involved in and the results that we are producing.

Vol. 02, Issue 37

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