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Court halts tax break in school bias case

In a sharp blow to the Reagan administration, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that the government may not grant federal tax exemptions to religious and other private schools that practice racial discrimination.

The justices upheld a federal appeals court's denial of special tax exemptions for Bob Jones University of Greenville, S.C., and the Goldsboro Christian schools in North Carolina. Writing for the court, Chief Justice Warren Burger held it is proper to withhold tax-exempt status from schools that discriminate, no matter how sincerely based in religious belief the bias is. The case, the most politically sensitive before the justices this term, drew nationwide attention and generated charges of racial insensitivity against President Reagan for advocating the schools be given special tax advantages.

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