Alternate Title

A Rawlsian Critique of the Political Speech Constraints on Charities


Public Reason, Section 501(c)(3), Lobbying, Political Campaigns, John Rawls, Political Speech, Charitable Organizations, Tax Exemption


This Essay analyzes whether the Rawlsian concept of public reason explains the substantive content of the lobbying limitation and the campaigning ban, and, more broadly, the implications of public reason for tax-exempt charities and their political speech. The question is notwhether public reasons—distinct premises and conclusions forming an argument—justify these provisions of law, but whether the political activity limitations of IRC § 501(c)(3) are properly understood to manifest or implement the ideal of public reason itself. Additionally, if these statutory constraints do not embody the ideal of public reason, do they offend it?



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