- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Senate Republican leader Trent Lott tried to help Bob Jones University keep its federal tax-exempt status despite the school's policy prohibiting interracial dating, two decades before the furor over his recent remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday party.
"Racial discrimination does not always violate public policy," wrote Mr. Lott, then a congressman from Mississippi, in a 1981 friend-of-the-court brief that urged the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the Internal Revenue Service from stripping the Greenville, S.C., university of its tax-exempt status.
The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 to revoke that status about two years after Mr. Lott filed his brief.
"The government now advocates penalizing Bob Jones University for its uncontestedly genuine religious beliefs," Mr. Lott wrote in his brief. "To hold that this religious institution is subject to tax because of its interracial dating policies would clearly raise grave First Amendment questions."
Mr. Lott asked that his views as a Mississippi congressman be heard as a "friend of the court" to protect Congress' interests and the interests of other religious institutions in his own state.
In his filing, Mr. Lott also argued that "if racial discrimination in the interest of diversity does not violate public policy," as the court had ruled in affirmative-action cases, "then surely discrimination in the practices of religion is no violation."


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