The Supreme Court of the United States decided on Thursday to rule in favor of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, which was in opposition to Acting California Attorney General Matthew Rodriguez favoring the privacy of donors of non-profits. The measure is a major blow against Democrats such as Vice President Kamala Harris who pushed for the mandated disclosure of donors by nonprofits, a tactic which conservatives feared might be used to target them.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s ruling that the government is only able to regulate the First Amendment “with narrow specificity,” and then declared that “compelled disclosure agreements” are not exempt from that requirement. The decision came down to a 6-3 ruling. The decision also reads that “broad and sweeping” probes by the state into citizens’ “beliefs and associations” sets a precedent which “discourages” people from exercising their First Amendment rights.
The Court then struck down California’s nonprofit disclosure requirement as invalid because it infringes on donors’ First Amendment rights and fails to meet the criteria of “narrowly tailored” to crucial government interests.
When Harris was the Attorney General of California, she issued a letter to AFP in 2013, demanding that the non-profit submit Schedule B forms, disclosing it’s largest donors. Schedule B is a very confidential form that contains the names and addresses of a given organization’s major donors, including individuals who reside outside of California.
AFP refused to submit the forms, claiming that giving away such information would discourage people from donating and violated their First Amendment rights.
Harris was replaced Xavier Becerra temporarily as Attorney General, but the office was succeeded by Matthew Rodriguez later. Rodriguez claims that the AG’s office started demanding Schedule B forms in 2010 for the same purposes as the IRS, that being to combat charitable fraud. They added that they did not want to use the Schedule B forms in order to target or publicly oust people for supporting certain organizations.
But AFP, a conservative organization, shot back by citing an earlier incident in which California, against their own confidentiality law, publicly released 1,800 Schedule B forms.
A trial-court ruled in favor of AFP, but the decision was overturned by the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, Thursday, however, the Supreme court has reversed the Ninth Court’s decision stating that the value and reasoning for California to collect so much sensitive information was made on poor grounds.
Author: Shelia Long