The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to review a challenge to a California requirement that charitable organizations disclose their major donors to the state attorney general, siding with groups like the Thomas More Law Center that say the requirement will make their donors vulnerable to retaliation, harassment, and violence.
The move from the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office drew praise from John Bursch, senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy at the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group.
“Charitable entities shouldn’t be required to disclose confidential donor information to state officials who do not need it and who fail to adequately protect donor identities from disclosure to the public,” Bursch said Nov. 24. “We are pleased that the United States agrees that this case presents critically important issues that the Supreme Court should decide immediately. Forced donor disclosure is a threat to everyone and discourages both charitable giving and participation in the marketplace of ideas.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is backing the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center’s complaint in the case. The center promotes issues related to religious freedom, moral and family values, and the sanctity of human life, Alliance Defending Freedom said in August 2019. Another challenger to the California rules is the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which tends to take conservative or libertarian positions on questions of economics and other issues, including opposition to labor unions.
Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to grant a hearing on the case, which was victorious in federal district court but suffered a defeat in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals….
Qualified tax-exempt organizations already must submit to the IRS a Form 990 federal information form, including the names of “all substantial contributors” in a section called Schedule B. Substantial donors are defined as those who give $5,000 or more to the organization in a year or 2% of total annual contributions. However, the information about these donors must be kept confidential on pain of civil and criminal law.
Non-profits that ask for donations in California must file their tax returns with California’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, administered by the state attorney general, currently Xavier Becerra.
Beginning in 2010, the California attorney general said that disclosures must include this Schedule B. The incoming U.S. vice-president Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., was California attorney general from 2011 to 2017, and the rule change began under her predecessor Jerry Brown.
Both the Thomas More Law Center and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation have alleged that there is a high risk their information will be made public and disrupt their freedom of association….
The above comes from a Nov. 26 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.