Pirouetting on Civil Rights

Reagan goes round and round on tax breaks for schools

It was quite a turnabout. First, Ronald Reagan reversed a policy established by Congress, the courts and three previous Administrations, by revoking an Internal Revenue Service rule barring tax-exempt status for racially segregated schools. When the inevitable uproar ensued, the President backpedaled by proposing a law to undo what he had just done. Reagan insisted that he was firmly opposed to racial bias; his only concern, he said, was with a procedural principle—the belief that Congress, not the IRS, should exercise control over such rulings. The awkward performance raised serious questions about...

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