The Washington Gadfly
Does Alito Come Clean on the BJers?

Weyrich: Bob Jones is demented, but IRS policy even crazier
Paul Weyrich vehemently supported the effort to restore tax exempt status to the Jungle Feverphobes at Bob Jones University.

But Weyrich, in contradistinction to most every other conservative in recent years, expresses disdain for BJU. In Weyrich's view the case is about religious freedom."I supported tax exempt status on principle. If the position of the government determines who gets exempted, then one day soon in the next Clinton Administration my church will lose its exemption because we have no women clergy, not even altar girls. I have little use for Bob Jones but this was a terrible precedent to set."

Samuel Alito has thus far passed the ideological purity test required for Supreme Court nominees by conservatives who claim that liberals have politicized the courts.

Afficiandos of racial purity may also find Alito a welcome addition to the Supreme Court.

Alito worked in the Solicitor General's office when the Reagan Administration defended its controversial decision to re-store tax-exempt status to two racially discriminatory Christian schools; Bob Jones, which barred inter-racial dating, and the long-forgotten Goldsboro Christian Schools, which outright barred blacks for Scriptural reasons.

Larry Wallace, who as Deputy Solicitor General argued the Reagan Administration's position before the Supreme Court, tells chimpstein.com that Alito was not involved with the case, which was handled by a different division than the one where Alito worked.

But considering that Hillary Clinton was asked to account for every alleged malfeasance at her former Little Rock law firm, by the same standards shouldn't Alito be pressed on the spirited effort by his colleagues in the Solicitor General's office to shower taxpayer largesse on those fine Christians who manifested an inordinate fear of Jungle Fever?

Moroever, Alito's service as a government lawyer is touted by supporters to push his nomination. That is all the more reason why his work for the Solicitor General's office should be examined in great detail.

Hillary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington office, tells chimpstein.com that Alito's connection to the Bob Jones matter raises further concerns about his record and "absolutely" should be examined by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At the very least Alito is not known to have been among the many Justice Department employees who took exception to the Reagan Administration stance, which at the behest of the religious right and prodded by none other than Trent Lott, reversed the IRS policy enacted during the Nixon Administration.

Over 200 employees of the Justice Department civil rights division signed a letter protesting the Reagan Administration's position. There are no stories that anybody in the Solicitor General's office publicly opposed the policy.

Wallace says he had no conversations with Alito about the matter.

The Supreme Court ultimately rejected the Reagan Administration's position in an 8-1 decision.

Yes there are legitimate practical and reasons that can be offered to support tax-exempt status for Bob Jones; but anybody who does that without also condemning BJU is, at best, morally obtuse.

The problem is with the exception of Paul Weyrich, very few if any conservatives disassociate themselves from BJU in the course of supporting the tax-exemption.

Conservatives, such as John Ashcroft and George Bush, are notorious for speaking at Bob Jones University without denouncing let alone mentioning its desire to keep the races apart. The ban on inter-racial dating sounds comical but its ugly sensibility is redolent of some of the worst episodes of violence in our nation's history.

Emmett Till's killers also opposed inter-racial dating.

Even after the prohibition was finally lifted, National Review continued to defend BJU and suggest criticism was some kind of anti-religious bigotry.

Liberals play the race card to pre-empt legitimate debate; conservatives, the religion card.

But to depict criticism of Bob Jones University is anti-Chrisitian is a hard sell because the school is virulently anti-Catholic.

Another judicial nominee was already forced to disavow her role in support for the Bob Jones tax credits.

Alito can't do that so easily without leaving himself open to an embarrassing series of follow-up questions.

If the arguments made in favor of tax-exempt status for BJU were wrongly applied are they wrong in other situations? If the government can't deny tax exempt status to BJU does that mean the Education Department shouldn't be allowed to withhold federal funds from schools found to engage in discriminatory practices?

Yeah, yeah. The BJ case allows room to smack liberals for hypocrisy. They have no problems withholding tax support for Bob Jones but claim First Amendment issues when efforts are made to de-fund the Brooklyn Museum or the NEA. But these matters have been debated endlessly.

Conservatives of Alitos ilk have never really been subjected to any kind of withering scrutiny regarding BJU. John Roberts, for example, wrote at least one memo in support of the Reagan Administration's position but Washington Post national editor Mike Abramowitz failed to assign a story on the matter, even after Stanley Crouch and the New York Sun followed-up on chimpstein's disclosure of the Roberts-BJU connection.

Bob Jones was not some kind of anomaly; it makes perfect sense when you consider that Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley opposed the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s--based on the same principles which the right espouses today.

No wonder that former George H.W. Bush White House counsel Boyden Gray cursed and yelled earlier this year when asked if he supported tax-exempt status for schools that prohibit inter-racial dating.

If the GOP and conservatives lack the moral fortitude to disassociate themselves from Bob Jones University how can they plausibly contend that racism was long ago extirpated from mainstream American society?

It's all well and good that conservative leaders today paid homage to Rosa Parks.

But why are they so cozy with a school that would allow her to sit anywhere on the campus bus provided she didn't get off with one of the white students?

   Evan Gahr EvanGahr@aol.com, a former press critic for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel, recently broke the story of a race discrimination lawsuit against the Washington Post. He has written for almost every major conservative publication.