BOB JONES UNIVERSITY
416 U.S. 725 (1974)
CERTIORARI TO THE
UNITED STATES COURT
Petitioner, a private university, was notified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), pursuant to a newly announced policy of denying tax-exempt status for private schools with racially discriminatory admissions policies, that it was going to revoke a ruling letter declaring that petitioner qualified for tax-exempt status under 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (Code). Petitioner sued for injunctive relief to prevent revocation, alleging irreparable injury in the form of income tax liability and loss of contributions and claiming that the revocation would violate petitioner's rights to free exercise of religion, to free association, and to due process and equal protection of the laws. The District Court granted relief despite 7421 (a) of the Code, which provides that "no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court." The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that 7421 (a), as construed in Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 370 U.S. 1, foreclosed relief. Under that decision a pre-enforcement injunction against tax assessment or collection may be granted only if (1) "it is clear that under no circumstances could the Government ultimately prevail " and (2) "if equity jurisdiction otherwise exists."
2. Petitioner's contention that 7421 (a) is subject to judicially created exceptions other than the Williams Packing test is without merit. That decision constitutes an all-encompassing reading of 7421 (a), and it rejected the contention, relied upon by petitioner, that irreparable injury alone is sufficient to lift the statutory bar. Pp. 742-746.
3. Denying injunctive relief to petitioner under the standards of Williams Packing, supra, will not, because of alleged irreparable injury pending resort to alternative remedies, deny petitioner due process of law, since this is not a case where an aggrieved party has no access at all to judicial review. The review procedures that are available are constitutionally adequate, even though involving serious delay. Pp. 746-748.
4. Petitioner has not met the standards of Williams Packing, supra, since its contentions are sufficiently debatable to foreclose any notion that "under no circumstances could the Government ultimately prevail." Pp. 748-750. 472 F.2d 903 and 476 F.2d 259, affirmed.
POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C. J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 750. DOUGLAS, J., took no part in the decision of the case.
J. D. Todd, Jr., argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Wesley M. Walker and Oscar Jackson Taylor, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General Crampton argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Bork, Stuart A. Smith, Grant W. Wiprud, and Leonard J. Henzke, Jr.
MR. JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court
This case and Commissioner v. "Americans United" Inc., post, p. 752, involve the application of the Anti-Injunction [416 U.S. 725, 727] Act, 7421 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (the Code), 26 U.S.C. 7421 (a), to the ruling-letter program of the Internal Revenue Service (the Service) for organizations claiming tax-exempt status under Code 501 (c) (3), 26 U.S.C. 501 (c) (3). The question presented is whether, prior to the assessment and collection of any tax, a court may enjoin the Service from revoking a ruling letter declaring that petitioner qualifies for tax-exempt status and from withdrawing advance assurance to donors that contributions to petitioner will constitute charitable deductions under Code 170 (c) (2), 26 U.S.C. 170 (c) (2). We hold that it may not.
Section 501 (a) of the Code exempts from federal income taxes organizations described in 501 (c) (3). The latter provision encompasses:
"Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."
Section 501 (c) (3) organizations are also exempt from federal social security (FICA) taxes by virtue of Code 3121 (b) (8) (B), 26 U.S.C. 3121 (b) (8) (B), and from federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes by virtue of 3306 (c) (8), 26 U.S.C. 3306 (c) (8). Donations [416 U.S. 725, 728] to 501 (c) (3) organizations are tax deductible under 170 (c) (2).1
As a practical matter, an organization hoping to solicit tax-deductible contributions may not rely solely on technical compliance with the language of 501 (c) (3) and 170 (c) (2). The organization must also obtain a ruling letter from the Service, pursuant to Rev. Procs. 72-3 and 72-4, 1972-1 Cum. Bull. 698, 706, declaring that it qualifies under 501 (c) (3). Receipt of such a ruling letter leads, in the ordinary case, to inclusion in [416 U.S. 725, 729] the Service's periodically updated Publication No. 78, "Cumulative List of Organizations described in Section 170 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954" (the Cumulative List). In essence, the Cumulative List is the Service's official roster of tax-exempt organizations: "The listing of an organization in [the Cumulative List] signifies it has received a ruling or determination letter stating that contributions by donors to the organization are deductible as provided in section 170 of the Code." Rev. Proc. 72-39, 1972-2 Cum. Bull. 818. An organization's inclusion in the Cumulative List assures potential donors in advance that contributions to the organization will qualify as charitable deductions under 170 (c) (2). The Service has announced that, with narrowly limited exceptions, a donor may rely on the Cumulative List for so long as the beneficiaries of his largesse maintain their listing, regardless of their actual tax status.2 For this reason, appearance on the Cumulative List is a prerequisite to successful fund raising [416 U.S. 725, 730] for most charitable organizations. Many contributors simply will not make donations to an organization that does not appear on the Cumulative List.3
Because of the importance of inclusion in the Cumulative List, revocation of a 501 (c) (3) ruling letter and consequent removal from the Cumulative List is likely to result in serious damage to a charitable organization.4 Revocation not only threatens the flow of contributions, it also subjects the affected organization to FICA and FUTA taxes and, assuming that the organization has taxable income and does not qualify as tax exempt under another subsection of 501, to federal income taxes.5 Upon the assessment and attempted collection of income taxes, the organization may litigate the legality of the Service's action by petitioning the Tax Court to review a notice of deficiency. See Code 6212 and 6213, 26 U.S.C. 6212 and 6213. Or, following the collection of any federal tax and the denial of a refund by the Service, the organization may bring a [416 U.S. 725, 731] refund suit in a federal district court or in the Court of Claims. See Code 7422, 26 U.S.C. 7422; 28 U.S.C. 1346 (a) (1) and 1491. Finally, a donor to the organization may bring a refund suit to challenge the denial of a charitable deduction under 170 (c) (2). Presumably such a "friendly donor" would be able to attack the legality of the Service's revocation of an organization's 501 (c) (3) status. But these post-revocation avenues of review take substantial time, during which the organization is certain to lose contributions from those donors whose gifts are contingent on entitlement to charitable deductions under 170 (c) (2). Accordingly, any organization threatened with revocation of a 501 (c) (3) ruling letter has a powerful incentive to bring a pre-enforcement suit to prevent the Service from taking action in the first instance.
The pressures operating on organizations facing revocation of 501 (c) (3) status to seek injunctive relief against the Service pending judicial review of the proposed action conflict directly with a congressional prohibition of such pre-enforcement tax suits. In force continuously since its enactment in 1867, the Anti-Injunction Act, now Code 7421 (a), provides in pertinent part that "no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court "6 Because an injunction [416 U.S. 725, 732] preventing the Service from withdrawing a 501 (c) (3) ruling letter would necessarily preclude the collection of FICA, FUTA, and possibly income taxes from the affected organization, as well as the denial of 170 (c) (2) charitable deductions to donors to the organization, a suit seeking such relief falls squarely within the literal scope of the Act.7 [416 U.S. 725, 733]
The clash between the language of the Anti-Injunction Act and the desire of 501 (c) (3) organizations to block the Service from withdrawing a ruling letter has been resolved against the organizations in most cases. E. g., [416 U.S. 725, 734] Crenshaw County Private School Foundation v. Connally, 474 F.2d 1185 (CA5 1973), pet. for cert. pending in No. 73-170; National Council on the Facts of Over-population v. Caplin, 224 F. Supp. 313 (DC 1963); Israelite House of David v. Holden, 14 F.2d 701 (WD Mich. 1926).8 But see McGlotten v. Connally, 338 F. Supp. 448 (DC 1972) (three-judge court). Cf. Green v. Connally, 330 F. Supp. 1150 (DC), aff'd per curiam sub nom. Coit v. Green, 404 U.S. 997 (1971).
In the present case, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit followed the majority view. Bob Jones University v. Connally, 472 F.2d 903, petition for rehearing denied, 476 F.2d 259 (1973). In light of the contrary result reached by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in "Americans United" Inc. v. Walters, 155 U.S. App. D.C. 284, 477 F.2d 1169 (1973), rev'd sub nom. Commissioner v. "Americans United" Inc., post, p. 752, we granted Bob Jones University's petition for certiorari. 414 U.S. 817 (1973).
Petitioner refers to itself as "the world's most unusual university." Founded in 1927 and now located in Greenville, South Carolina, the University is devoted to the teaching and propagation of its fundamentalist religious beliefs. All classes commence and close with prayer, [416 U.S. 725, 735] and courses in religion are compulsory. Students and faculty are screened for adherence to certain religious precepts and may be expelled or dismissed for lack of allegiance to them. One of these beliefs is that God intended segregation of the races and that the Scriptures forbid interracial marriage. Accordingly, petitioner refuses to admit Negroes as students. On pain of expulsion students are prohibited from interracial dating, and petitioner believes that it would be impossible to enforce this prohibition absent the exclusion of Negroes.
In 1942, the Service issued petitioner a ruling letter under 101 (6) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939, the predecessor of 501 (c) (3). In 1970, however, the Service announced that it would no longer allow 501 (c) (3) status for private schools maintaining racially discriminatory admissions policies and that it would no longer treat contributions to such schools as tax deductible. See Rev. Rul. 71-447, 1971-2 Cum. Bull. 230. The Service requested proof of a nondiscriminatory admissions policy from all such schools and warned that tax-exempt ruling letters would be reviewed in light of the information provided. At the end of 1970, petitioner advised the Service that it did not admit Negroes, and in September 1971, further stated that it had no intention of altering this policy. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue therefore instructed the District Director to commence administrative procedures leading to the revocation of petitioner's 501 (c) (3) ruling letter.
Petitioner brought these administrative proceedings to a halt by filing suit in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing the Service from revoking or threatening to revoke petitioner's tax-exempt status. Petitioner alleged irreparable injury in the form of substantial federal income tax liability and the loss of [416 U.S. 725, 736] contributions. Petitioner asserted that the Service's threatened action was outside its lawful authority and would violate petitioner's rights to the free exercise of religion, to free association, and to due process and equal protection of the laws.
The District Court rejected a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and it preliminarily enjoined the Service from revoking or threatening to revoke petitioner's tax-exempt status and from withdrawing advance assurance of the deductibility of contributions made to petitioner. Bob Jones University v. Connally, 341 F. Supp. 277 (1971). The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, with one judge dissenting. 472 F.2d 903, reh. den., 476 F.2d 259 (1973).That court held that petitioner's suit was barred by the Anti-Injunction Act as interpreted by this Court in Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 370 U.S. 1. (1962).
The Anti-Injunction Act apparently has no recorded legislative history,9 but its language could scarcely be more explicit - "no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court " The Court has interpreted the principal purpose of this language to be the protection of the Government's need to assess and collect taxes as expeditiously as possible with a minimum of pre-enforcement judicial interference, "and to require that the legal right to the disputed sums be determined in a suit for refund." Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation [416 U.S. 725, 737] Co., supra, at 7. See also, e. g., State Railroad Tax Cases, 92 U.S. 575, 613-614 (1876). Cf. Cheatham v. United States, 92 U.S. 85, 88-89 (1876). The Court has also identified "a collateral objective of the Act - protection of the collector from litigation pending a suit for refund." Williams Packing, supra, at 7-8.
In furtherance of these goals, the Court in its most recent reading gave the Act almost literal effect. In Williams Packing, an employer sought to enjoin the collection of FICA and FUTA taxes that the employer alleged were not owed and would destroy its business. The Court held unanimously that the suit was barred by the Act. Only upon proof of the presence of two factors could the literal terms of 7421 (a) be avoided: first, irreparable injury, the essential prerequisite for injunctive relief in any case; and second, certainty of success on the merits. Id., at 6-7. An injunction could issue only "if it is clear that under no circumstances could the Government ultimately prevail " Id., at 7. And this determination would be made on the basis of the information available to the Government at the time of the suit. "Only if it is then apparent that, under the most liberal view of the law and the facts, the United States cannot establish its claim, may the suit for an injunction be maintained." Ibid.
Perhaps in recognition of the stringent nature of the Williams Packing standard and its implications for this case, petitioner makes little effort to argue that it can meet that test. Rather, it asserts that the Anti-Injunction Act, properly construed, is not applicable, that Williams Packing is not the controlling reading of the Act, and that rejection of both these contentions would work a denial of due process of law. We find these arguments unpersuasive. [416 U.S. 725, 738]
First, petitioner contends that the Act is inapplicable because this is not a suit "for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax " Under petitioner's theory, its suit is intended solely to compel the Service to refrain from withdrawing petitioner's 501 (c) (3) ruling letter and from depriving petitioner's donors of advance assurance of deductibility. Petitioner describes its goal as the maintenance of the flow of contributions, not the obstruction of revenue.
Petitioner's complaint and supporting documents filed in the District Court belie any notion that this is not a suit to enjoin the assessment or collection of federal taxes from petitioner. In support of its claim of irreparable injury, petitioner alleged in part that it would be subject to "substantial" federal income tax liability if the Service were allowed to carry out its threatened action. App. 6. Petitioner buttressed this contention with sworn affidavits alleging federal income tax liability of three-quarters of a million dollars for one year and in excess of half a million dollars for another and stressing the detrimental effect such tax liability would have on petitioner's capacity to operate its institution, to support its personnel, and to continue with its expansion plans. Id., at 10-11, 43-44. These allegations leave little doubt that a primary purpose of this lawsuit is to prevent the Service from assessing and collecting income taxes from petitioner.
We recognize that petitioner's assertions that it will owe federal income taxes should its 501 (c) (3) status be revoked are open to debate, because they are based in part on a failure to take into account possible deductions for depreciation of plant and equipment. Even if it could be shown, however, that petitioner would owe no federal income taxes if its 501 (c) (3) status were [416 U.S. 725, 739] revoked, this would still be a suit to restrain the assessment or collection of taxes because petitioner would also be liable for FICA and FUTA taxes. Section 7421 (a) speaks of "any tax"; it does not differentiate between federal income taxes or FICA or FUTA taxes. See, e. g., Williams Packing, supra. Moreover, petitioner seeks to restrain the collection of taxes from its donors - to force the Service to continue to provide advance assurance to those donors that contributions to petitioner will be recognized as tax deductible, thereby reducing their tax liability. Although in this regard petitioner seeks to lower the taxes of those other than itself, the Act is nonetheless controlling.10 Thus in any of its implications, this case falls within the literal scope and the purposes of the Act.
Petitioner further contends that the Service's actions do not represent an effort to protect the revenues but an attempt to regulate the admissions policies of private universities. Under this line of argument, the Anti-Injunction [416 U.S. 725, 740] Act is said to be inapplicable because the case does not truly involve taxes. We disagree.
The Service bases its present position with regard to the tax status of segregative private schools on its interpretation of the Code.11 There is no evidence that that position does not represent a good-faith effort to enforce the technical requirements of the tax laws, and, without indicating a view as to whether the Service's interpretation is correct, we cannot say that its position has no legal basis or is unrelated to the protection of the revenues. The Act is therefore applicable. Petitioner's attribution of non-tax-related motives to the Service ignores the fact that petitioner has not shown that the Service's action is without an independent basis in the requirements of the Code. Moreover, petitioner's argument fails to give appropriate weight to Bailey v. George, 259 U.S. 16 (1922). In that case, the Court held that the Act blocked a pre-enforcement suit to enjoin collection of the federal Child Labor Tax, although the tax was challenged as a regulatory measure beyond the taxing power of Congress. Significantly, the Court announced Bailey v. George on the same day that it issued Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U.S. 20 [416 U.S. 725, 741] (1922), a tax-refund case in which the Court struck down the Child Labor Tax Law as unconstitutional on the grounds that the taxpayer attempted to raise prematurely in Bailey v. George.12
Petitioner also argues that 7421 (a) is not controlling because when the Act was passed in 1867 Congress could not possibly have foreseen something as sophisticated as the comparatively recent ruling-letter program13 and the special importance of that program for 501 (c) (3) organizations. This argument proves too much, however, since the same Congress also could not have foreseen, for example, FICA or FUTA taxes, to which the prohibitory command of 7421 (a) indisputably applies. See, e. g., Williams Packing, supra. Moreover, through the years Congress has repeatedly re-enacted the Anti-Injunction Act14 at times when it was obviously aware of [416 U.S. 725, 742] the continuously increasing complexity of the federal tax system.15
Petitioner next argues that Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., supra, does not constitute an all-encompassing reading of the Act. Petitioner contends, on the basis of prior precedents, that 7421 (a) is subject to judicially created exceptions other than the "under no circumstances" test announced in Williams Packing. But the Court's unanimous opinion in Williams Packing indicates that the case was meant to be the capstone to judicial construction of the Act. It spells an end to a cyclical pattern of allegiance to the plain meaning of the Act, followed by periods of uncertainty caused by a judicial departure from that meaning, and followed in turn by the Court's rediscovery of the Act's purpose.
During the first half century of the Act's existence, the Court gave it literal force, without regard to the character of the tax, the nature of the pre-enforcement challenge to it, or the status of the plaintiff. See State Railroad Tax Cases, 92 U.S., at 613-614; Snyder v. Marks, 109 U.S. 189 (1883); Pacific Steam Whaling Co. v. United States, 187 U.S. 447 (1903); Dodge v. Osborn, 240 U.S. 118 (1916); Bailey v. George, 259 U.S. 16 (1922).16 Occasionally, however, the Court noted in [416 U.S. 725, 743] dictum that unspecified extraordinary and exceptional circumstances might justify an injunction despite the Act. E. g., Dodge v. Osborn, supra, at 122; Bailey v. George, supra, at 20. In 1922, the Court seized upon these dicta and permitted pre-enforcement injunctive suits against tax statutes that were viewed as penalties or as adjuncts to the criminal law. Hill v. Wallace, 259 U.S. 44 (1922); Lipke v. Lederer, 259 U.S. 557 (1922); Regal Drug Corp. v. Wardell, 260 U.S. 386 (1922). Shortly thereafter, however, the Court made clear that Hill, Lipke, and Regal Drug were of narrow scope and had no application to pre-enforcement challenges to truly revenue-raising tax statutes. Graham v. Du Pont, 262 U.S. 234 (1923).17 Thus, the Court's first departure from a literal reading of the Act produced a prompt correction in course. [416 U.S. 725, 744]
In the 1930's the Court decided Miller v. Standard Nut Margarine Co., 284 U.S. 498 (1932), and Allen v. Regents of the University System of Georgia, 304 U.S. 439 (1938), the cases relied on most heavily by petitioner. Standard Nut set forth a new definition of the extraordinary and exceptional circumstances test, which was followed in Regents. In Standard Nut the Court stated that the Act is merely "declaratory of the principle" of cases prior to its passage that equity usually, but not always, disavows interference with tax collection; thus, the Act was to be construed "as near as may be in harmony with [equity doctrine] and the reasons upon which it rests." 284 U.S., at 509. Through this interpretation, the concept of extraordinary and exceptional circumstances was reduced to the traditional equitable requirements for issuance of an injunction.
Standard Nut was such a significant deviation from precedent that it was referred to by a commentator at the time as "a tribute to the tenacity of the American taxpayer" and "little short of phenomenal."18 Read literally, the Court's opinion effectively repealed the Act, since the Act was viewed as requiring nothing more than equity doctrine had demanded before the Act's passage. The incongruity of this position has not escaped notice.19 It undoubtedly led directly to the Court's re-examination [416 U.S. 725, 745] of the requirements of the Act in Williams Packing, the second time the Court has undertaken to rehabilitate the Act following debilitating departures from its explicit language. See Graham v. Du Pont, supra.
Williams Packing switched the focus of the extraordinary and exceptional circumstances test from a showing of the degree of harm to the plaintiff absent an injunction to the requirement that it be established that the Service's action is plainly without a legal basis. The Court in essence read Standard Nut not as an instance of irreparable injury but as a case where the Service had no chance of success on the merits. 370 U.S., at 7. And the Court explicitly held that the Act may not be evaded "merely because collection would cause an irreparable injury, such as the ruination of the taxpayer's enterprise." Id., at 6. Yet petitioner's argument that we should find Williams Packing inapplicable turns, in the last analysis, on its claim that to do otherwise would subject it to great harm. The Court rejected that consideration in Williams Packing itself, and we reject it as a reason for finding that case not controlling. Under the language of the Act, the degree of harm is not a factor, and as a matter of judicial construction, it does not provide a meaningful stopping point between Standard Nut and Williams Packing. Acceptance of petitioner's irreparable injury argument would simply [416 U.S. 725, 746] revive the evisceration of the Act inherent in Standard Nut.
Assuming, arguendo, the applicability of 7421 (a) and Williams Packing, petitioner contends that forcing it to meet the standards of those authorities will deny it due process of law in light of the irreparable injury it will suffer pending resort to alternative procedures for review and of the alleged inadequacies of those remedies at law. The Court dismissed out of hand similar contentions nearly 60 years ago,20 and we find such arguments no more compelling now than then.
This is not a case in which an aggrieved party has no access at all to judicial review. Were that true, our conclusion might well be different. If, as alleged in its complaint, petitioner will have taxable income upon the withdrawal of its 501 (c) (3) status, it may in accordance with prescribed procedures petition the Tax Court to review the assessment of income taxes. Alternatively, petitioner may pay income taxes, or, in their absence, an installment of FICA or FUTA taxes, exhaust the Service's internal refund procedures, and then bring suit for a refund. These review procedures offer petitioner a full, albeit delayed, opportunity to litigate the legality of the Service's revocation of tax-exempt status and withdrawal of advance assurance of deductibility. See, e. g., Christian Echoes National Ministry, Inc. v. United States, [416 U.S. 725, 747] 470 F.2d 849 (CA10 1972), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 864 (1973); Center on Corporate Responsibility, Inc. v. Shultz, 368 F. Supp. 863 (DC 1973).21
We do not say that these avenues of review are the best that can be devised. They present serious problems of delay, during which the flow of donations to an organization will be impaired and in some cases perhaps even terminated. But, as the Service notes, some delay may be an inevitable consequence of the fact that disputes between the Service and a party challenging the Service's actions are not susceptible of instant resolution through litigation. And although the congressional restriction to postenforcement review may place an organization claiming tax-exempt status in a precarious financial position, the problems presented do not rise to the level of constitutional infirmities, in light of the powerful governmental interests in protecting the administration of the tax system from premature judicial interference, e. g., Cheatham v. United States, 92 U.S., at 88-89; State [416 U.S. 725, 748] Railroad Tax Cases, 92 U.S., at 613-614, and of the opportunities for review that are available.22
Since we hold that Williams Packing, supra, governs this case, the remaining issue is whether petitioner has met the standards of that case. Without deciding the [416 U.S. 725, 749] merits, we think that petitioner's First Amendment, due process, and equal protection contentions are sufficiently debatable to foreclose any notion that "under no circumstances could the Government ultimately prevail " 370 U.S., at 7. See, e. g., Green v. Connally, 330 F. Supp. 1150 (DC), aff'd per curiam sub nom. Coit v. Green, 404 U.S. 997 (1971). Accordingly, the Court of Appeals did not err in holding that 7421 (a) deprived the District Court of jurisdiction to issue the injunctive relief petitioner sought.
In holding that 7421 (a) blocks the present suit, we are not unaware that Congress has imposed an especially harsh regime on 501 (c) (3) organizations threatened with loss of tax-exempt status and with withdrawal of advance assurance of deductibility of contributions. A former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service has sharply criticized the system applicable to such organizations.23 The degree of bureaucratic control [416 U.S. 725, 750] that, practically speaking, has been placed in the Service over those in petitioner's position is susceptible of abuse, regardless of how conscientiously the Service may attempt to carry out its responsibilities. Specific treatment of not-for-profit organizations to allow them to seek pre-enforcement review may well merit consideration. But this matter is for Congress, which is the appropriate body to weigh the relevant, policy-laden considerations, such as the harshness of the present law, the consequences of an unjustified revocation of 501 (c) (3) status, the number of organizations in any year threatened with such revocation, the comparability of those organizations to others which rely on the Service's ruling-letter program, and the litigation burden on the Service and the effect on the assessment and collection of federal taxes if the law were to be changed.
The judgment is affirmed. It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS took no part in the decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring in the result.
I concur in the Court's judgment and agree with much of the reasoning in its opinion for this case. As the Court notes, ante, at 738, the University's obtaining an injunction would directly prevent the collection of what it says are $750,000 in income taxes for 1971 and of over $500,000 for 1972. On the basis of this fact alone, the "purpose" of the suit is indeed to restrain "the [416 U.S. 725, 751] assessment or collection of [a] tax," and brings 26 U.S.C. 7421 (a) into play.
Since the anti-injunction statute is applicable, we must consider whether the University comes within the statute's exception recognized in Enochs v. Williams Packing & Navigation Co., 370 U.S. 1 (1962). As to this, I join Part IV of the Court's opinion to the effect that it has not been shown that "under no circumstances could the Government ultimately prevail." Id., at 7. [416 U.S. 725, 752]