Missouri Rep. Jason Smith denounced universities and student organizations for statements “celebrating, excusing, or downplaying” the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel. “Releasing such statements, or failing to condemn them,” he said last month, “is unforgivable and runs counter to our values as a nation.”
Mr. Smith’s comments have more weight than most because he is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy. That includes policies governing nonprofit organizations, including colleges and universities as well as groups issuing statements and staging rallies throughout the U.S. Statements celebrating Hamas’s violence, Mr. Smith adds, “call into question the academic or charitable missions they claim to pursue”—in other words, their tax breaks.
The U.S. has traditionally given charities and their supporters great leeway in handling controversial issues. Constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly protect their activities and require government to demonstrate a strong reason for restricting them. But Congress and the Supreme Court—as well as nearly three dozen states—have agreed that providing aid to terrorist groups like Hamas is a justifiable reason to forbid donors from supporting them.