Dear Mr. President: (Mr. Speaker:)
As you are aware, the Department of the Treasury announced on January 8 that the Internal Revenue Service would no longer deny tax-exempt status to private, non-profit educational organizations that engage in racially discriminatory practices but otherwise qualify for such status under the present Internal Revenue Code. That decision reflects my belief that agencies such as the IRS should not be permitted, even with the best of intentions and to further goals that I strongly endorse, to govern by administrative fiat by exercising powers that the Constitution assigns to the Congress.
I share with you and your colleagues an unalterable opposition to racial discrimination in any form. Such practices are repugnant to all that our Nation and its citizens hold dear, and I believe this repugnance should be plainly reflected in our laws. To that end, I am herewith submitting to the Congress proposed legislation that would prohibit tax exemptions for any schools that discriminate on the basis of race. This proposed legislation is sensitive to the legitimate special needs of private religious schools.
I pledge my fullest cooperation in working with you to enact such legislation as rapidly as possible, and urge that you give this matter the very highest priority.
I have been advised by the Secretary of the Treasury that he will not act on any applications for tax exemptions filed in response to the IRS policy announced on January 8, until the Congress has acted on this proposed legislation.
I believe the course I have outlined is the one most consistent both with our mutual determination to eradicate all vestiges of racial discrimination in American society, and with a proper view of the powers vested in the Congress under our constitutional system.
I feel this legislative action is important to and desired by all citizens of this great Nation; I am confident that you will give this issue the prompt attention it deserves.
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to George Bush, President of the Senate, and Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives.