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Case Basics
Docket No. 
No. 81-970
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners in No. 81-970)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner in No. 81-757)
Facts of the Case 

In an effort to curb racially discriminatory practices in private schools, the Internal Revenue Code denies tax-exempt status to schools which promote such practices. The Code also prohibits individuals from making tax-deductible donations to private schools which racially discriminate. Inez Wright and others filed a nationwide class action suit arguing that the IRS had not fulfilled its obligations in enforcing these provisions of the Code, and thus, that government was subsidizing and encouraging the expansion of segregated education in private schools. This case was decided together with Reagan v. Wright.


Did the IRS shirk its enforcement duties and encourage private schools to racially discriminate, thus, harming desegregation efforts in the nation's public schools?

Decision: 5 votes for Allen, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 3, Section 2, Paragraph 1: Case or Controversy Requirement

The Court found that the circumstances involved in this case did not warrant federal-court adjudication. Justice O'Connor's opinion argued that the Court could not act since the injuries that the suit identified were not "judicially cognizable" and because they were not "fairly traceable to the assertedly unlawful conduct of the IRS." Citing past precedents, O'Connor found that, by itself, an assertion that the government is not acting in the bounds of the law is not enough to bring a suit to a federal court. To allow so would open the door to a myriad of legal challenges in which the courts would become buried by the minutiae of governing, acting as "continuing monitors of the wisdom and soundness of Executive action."

Cite this Page
ALLEN v. WRIGHT. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
ALLEN v. WRIGHT, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"ALLEN v. WRIGHT," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,