In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court struck down a California requirement, pushed by Vice President Kamala Harris while she was attorney general, that would force the disclosure of donations to various non-profits.
In an opinion siding with the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) and Americans For Prosperity (AFP), who both sued the state, Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “The government may regulate in the First Amendment area only with narrow specificity, and compelled disclosure regimes are no exception.”
When the rule was established, many conservatives sounded the alarm that the release of a non-profit’s donation list could lead to various forms of discrimination.
“When it comes to a person’s beliefs and associations, broad and sweeping state inquiries into these protected areas discourage citizens from exercising rights protected by the Constitution,” Roberts continued in the opinion.
While Harris served as attorney general of the state, she pushed various non-profits to send Schedule B forms, which would disclose the largest donors of the organization. According to the Cato Institute, who filed a brief in support of AFP and TMLC, a Schedule B form is highly confidential and lists the names and addresses of a charity’s major donors.
Both TMLC and AFP refused to submit the forms — arguing that doing so would violate the First Amendment protections of its donors.
Originally, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with the state of California; however, the Supreme Court reversed the decision.
Richard Thompson, TMLC’s president and chief counsel, celebrated the decision by the Court as a “landmark victory for the First Amendment.”
“The ability to maintain one’s privacy makes it possible for people to join together in causes and movements. Especially given how polarized our country has become, the work of addressing injustice and advocating for change is hard enough without people facing fear of harassment and retaliation from the government and from potentially violent opposition,” added AFP CEO Emily Seidel.
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