Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock 489 U.S. 1 (1989)

Author:Leonard W. Levy

Page 2680

The decision in this case affected the fifteen states whose statutes on sales and use taxes exempted religious publications. Texas exempted periodicals that consisted entirely of writings promulgating a religious faith. Voting 6?3, the Court held the act unconstitutional. Justice BYRON R. WHITE believed that because the statute discriminated on the basis of the content of publication, it violated the free-press clause. A bare majority believed that the statute violated the ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE. Justice WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, for the Court, concluded that the statute failed to serve the secular purpose of maintaining the SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, but rather, had the purpose of advancing the

Page 2681

religious mission of a particular faith. The exemption of the religious periodical in effect subsidized its teachings at the expense of taxpayers who were not exempt from the tax.

Brennan went further, thereby losing Justices HARRY A. BLACKMUN and SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, when he also declared the statute violative of the free-exercise clause. Blackmun and O'Connor preferred to rest exclusively on the establishment clause, believing that Brennan's free-exercise argument subordinated RELIGIOUS LIBERTY to the establishment clause. In dissent, Justlices ANTONIN SCALIA, WILLIAM H. REHNQUIST, and ANTHONY...

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