Housing Allowance Case Update

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Monday, March 18, 2019

The Legal Services Department of GCFA is keeping you informed on the recent legal rulings regarding the housing allowance.

In a decision published on March 15, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has held the housing allowance permitted by 26 § U.S.C. 107(2) to be constitutional. This decision reverses the ruling of the district court, which would have enjoined enforcement of § 107(2). It is the first time the 7th Circuit has addressed the constitutionality of § 107(2), as it had ruled in a previous case that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”) did not have standing.

After first concluding that FFRF had sufficiently established standing to bring its lawsuit, the 7th Circuit then analyzed the constitutionality of § 107(2) by the application of multiple legal standards. The 7th Circuit found that § 107(2) met the requirements of each of those standards, and that it thus did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This means the housing allowance provided to ministers by § 107(2) continues to be valid and available.

It is possible, if not likely, that FFRF will ask the United States Supreme Court to review the 7th Circuit’s ruling, but there is no guarantee that such a request would be granted. GCFA will continue to monitor, and provide updates on, the progress of this case, or any other actions the FFRF may take in its ongoing battle against § 107.

The Legal Services Department will continue to monitor this case and will update its analysis and share any decisions as they become available.  

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