(Baptist Press) A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled the U.S. tax code’s ministerial housing allowance is unconstitutional.
Unlike a previous attempt by the same judge to strike down the housing allowance, the latest ruling by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could be upheld on appeal to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, said Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey, law professor at Mississippi College.
The judge appears “bound by existing law to decide the case this way,” Steffey said. “The way the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Establishment Clause” to forbid preference of religion over non-religion “dictates to a lower court, which must follow the existing Supreme Court precedent to arrive at this decision.”
Crabb’s Oct. 6 ruling eventually could be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court if a majority of its justices are willing to change the high court’s longstanding interpretation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which is “possible,” Steffey said.