The ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit on behalf of a citizen and bookstore owner who challenged two provisions of Georgia law that exempted certain religious texts from sales and use taxes. One provision grants an exemption to “Holy Bibles, testaments, and similar books commonly recognized as Holy Scripture.” This provision is commonly applied to Christian and Jewish texts, but not to other religions, such as Hindu sacred texts. The second provision exempts certain religious texts from sales tax only if they are sold by religious institutions.

In this case, the plaintiffs challenged these provisions as violations of the Free Speech and Establishment Clauses of the United States and Georgia Constitutions. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of the tax exemptions because the statutes unconstitutionally give “unique and preferential treatment” to religious texts and impermissibly favor certain speech based upon its content. Then, on May 16th, 2007, the federal judge for the Northern District of Georgia granted the ACLU of Georgia and its fellow plaintiffs summary judgment in the case, declared the provisions unconstitutional, and enjoined the Georgia Department of Revenue from enforcing those provisions. The case was not appealed.

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