Copyright (c) 2003 Whittier Law Review
Whittier Law Review
ARTICLE: THE PARSONAGE EXEMPTION VIOLATES THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE AND SHOULD BE DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
24 Whittier L. Rev. 707
In December 2001, I received a call from a staff attorney at the Ninth Circuit. She said that a panel of the Ninth Circuit had just heard oral argument in a case involving the parsonage allowance and wanted to know if I was available to accept an appointment to be a friend of the court and write a brief concerning its constitutionality. She explained that the parsonage allowance was a provision of the tax code which allowed "ministers of the gospel" to be paid a tax-free housing allowance. The issue to be briefed was whether this benefit for clergy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. I said that, of course, I would accept the appointment.
About a week later, I received another phone call from the staff attorney saying that there was division within the panel as to how to proceed. She said that I should wait before doing any work. Several weeks later, she said that the panel had approved my appointment as an amici, by a 2-to-1 vote, and in a published opinion. 1 A briefing schedule was set, with each side required to file its briefs by May 6, 2002 and response briefs due on May 20, 2002. 2
The case, Warren v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 3 involved a minister in Orange County, California. 4 In each of the taxable years at issue, all or a significant part of the compensation provided to Richard D. Warren by Saddleback Valley Community ...
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