The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday in Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta and Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta that Americans are free to support nonprofit organizations and their causes without fear of harassment or threats. The court determined that state governments cannot force charities and other nonprofit organizations to disclose their donors without a highly compelling reason and thereby subject them to the possibility of adverse treatment simply for supporting causes with which some people may disagree.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which filed suit after the California Attorney General’s Office demanded the names and addresses of its major donors without any compelling need for the information. A district court trial showed that the office leaked such information like a sieve and created a perfect target for hackers by storing confidential donor information on the internet, where the data could be easily discovered.
“The Supreme Court has confirmed that every American is free to peacefully support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “Public advocacy is for everyone, not just those able to weather abuse. Forced donor disclosure is a threat to everyone and discourages both charitable giving and participation in the marketplace of ideas. The court correctly upheld the First Amendment’s promise of the freedom to associate with like-minded groups, which includes the right to donor privacy….”
Parties across the ideological spectrum — including 22 attorneys general, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, ChinaAid, and others — filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the Thomas More Law Center.
The above comes from a July 1 release from Alliance DefendingFreedom.