Do Law Schools Forfeit Federal Income Tax Exemption When They Deny Military Recruiters Full Access to Career Services Programs? The Hypothetical Case of Yale University v. Commissioner

46 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2009  

Johnny Rex Buckles

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: January 14, 2009

Abstract

Most United States law schools prohibit prospective employers who discriminate against students on any of several grounds, including sexual orientation, from utilizing the schools' student recruitment programs conducted by their career services offices. Because homosexuals who disclose their sexual orientation may not serve in the United States armed forces, some law schools at times have limited the channels through which military recruiters may interview students. In response to the application of these anti-discrimination policies to military recruiters, Congress enacted the Solomon Amendment. The Solomon Amendment eliminates certain federal funding otherwise available to an institution of higher education if it denies military recruiters the same access to its students and campus that other recruiting employers receive. Although the United States Supreme Court has recently upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, another legal issue - one that existing legal scholarship has never considered - remains outstanding. The issue is whether private law schools that have denied military recruiters full access to student recruitment programs have forfeited their federal income tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code under the public policy doctrine announced in Bob Jones University v. United States. This article rigorously analyzes this provocative issue by positing a hypothetical Supreme Court case, Yale University v. Commissioner, in which four opinions written by fictional Supreme Court Justices determine the tax-exempt status of several private, free-standing law schools or their affiliated universities. This format not only facilitates an analysis of the nuances of the public policy doctrine, but also exposes and illustrates the vagaries of the doctrine. Building on Reforming the Public Policy Doctrine, 53 U. Kan. L. Rev. 397 (2005), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=846825, this article concludes that the hypothetical case of Yale University v. Commissioner demonstrates that the public policy doctrine should be reformed.

Keywords: Solomon Amendment, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' FAIR I, FAIR II, Public Policy Doctrine, Bob Jones University,' 'Admissions Policy,' 'Military Recruiters,' 'Tax Exempt, Tax Exemption, 501(c)(3), sexual orientation, federal funding, Yale University

Suggested Citation

Buckles, Johnny Rex, Do Law Schools Forfeit Federal Income Tax Exemption When They Deny Military Recruiters Full Access to Career Services Programs? The Hypothetical Case of Yale University v. Commissioner (January 14, 2009). Arizona State Law Journal, 2009; U of Houston Law Center No. 2009-A-6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1328028

Johnny Rex Buckles (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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