Clergy Housing Allowance Update June 2019

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Friday, June 21, 2019

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”) announced, on June 14, 2019, that it would not seek review by the United States Supreme Court of its challenge to the housing allowance provided by Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code. While FFRF had won its case in a federal district court in Wisconsin by convincing a judge that housing allowance ran afoul of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit – the level of the federal court system immediately below the Supreme Court – overturned the district court’s decision, finding Section 107 to be constitutional.

This was the first time a federal court of appeals had ruled on the merits of the issue, as previous iterations of the litigation which reached that level were thrown out without having to address the substance of FFRF’s claims. By its own admission in its news release, FFRF was not confident the members of the Supreme Court would be willing to overturn the 7th Circuit’s decision. Rather than take the risk of having a Supreme Court decision squash any future attempts at challenging Section 107’s constitutionality, FFRF elected to allow this round of litigation to end.

The GCFA Legal Services Department will continue to monitor for any future challenges FFRF, or any other group, initiates on this issue.

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