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Branch Ministries v. Rossotti

211 F.3d 137 (2000)

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Branch Ministries v. Rossotti

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

211 F.3d 137 (2000)

Facts

Branch Ministries, Inc. (Branch) (plaintiff) was a tax-exempt organization that operated a Christian church in Binghamton, New York. Shortly before the 1992 presidential election, Branch paid for full-page advertisements in two national newspapers urging Christians not to vote for candidate Bill Clinton due to his positions on perceived moral issues. In November 1992, the regional commissioner of internal revenue (defendant) initiated a church tax inquiry due to Branch’s political activity, followed by a more comprehensive church tax examination. In January 1995, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revoked Branch’s tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3), and Branch filed suit to challenge the revocation in district court. The district court entered summary judgment for the IRS, and Branch appealed. Branch argued that the revocation of its tax-exempt status violated its right to freely exercise religion under the First Amendment and resulted from selective prosecution in violation of its equal-protection rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Buckley, J.)

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