Allen v. Wright 468 U.S. 737 (1984)

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ALLEN v. WRIGHT 468 U.S. 737 (1984)

The parents of black school children in districts that were undergoing desegregation brought suit against officials of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Alleging that the IRS had not adopted standards and procedures that would fulfill the agency's obligation to deny tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory private schools, the plaintiffs argued that the IRS in effect subsidized unconstitutional school segregation. The Supreme Court, 5–3, held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to raise this claim.

Justice sandra day o'connor, for the majority, said that the plaintiffs' claim that they had been stigmatized by the IRS conduct was insufficient as a specification of injury, amounting to little more than a general claim that government must behave according to law. The parents' second claim of injury was that they had been denied the right to have their children attend school in a system that was not segregated. Here the asserted injury was sufficient, Justice O'Connor said, but the injury was not fairly traceable to IRS conduct. The Court thus reinforced the "causation" requirement for standing established in Warth v. Seldin (1975). The three dissenters made the familiar charge that the "causation" line of inquiry disguised a rejection of the plaintiffs' claim without really addressing the constitutional issue. As in Warth, the Court rejected the plaintiffs' claim of injury without giving them the chance to prove their case.

Kenneth L. Karst

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Allen v. Wright 468 U.S. 737 (1984)

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