On Thursday, in a landmark victory for the freedom of association, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta preventing California from forcing charitable organizations to disclose the identities and personal information of major donors.
At issue was a state regulation requiring such organizations to disclose their federal tax forms, which revealed the identities of their most generous contributors.
The state’s stated reasoning behind this requirement was to combat potential corruption, but critics recognize it as a scheme hatched by the liberals in control of California’s government to choke off funding to causes they oppose by exposing donors to reprisal.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
AFP argued the First Amendment protects the right of donors to remain anonymous. Otherwise, as established in several cases from the 1950s and ’60s, supporters of groups with controversial views could be targeted for retribution, and their rights suppressed.
In particular, the group’s lawyers cited the case of NAACP v. Alabama, in which the justices held that an organization’s right of free association can be seriously infringed if its supporters are doxed.
AFP asserted the same protections should apply to charitable donors in the modern age, and a majority of the justices agreed.
The Freedom Foundation submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the Court”) brief that helped guide the Court in reaching this important decision. In its brief, the Foundation argued that the disclosure of sensitive donor information only invites retribution by those with less tolerance of opinions or political positions that contradict their own.
The Freedom Foundation and its backers understand our country is strengthened by a diversity of viewpoints and advocacy that cannot be allowed to be overcome by trigger warnings, cancel culture or any attempt to force us into silence.
As reaffirmed in the Americans for Prosperity decision, First Amendment freedoms are bigger than any political games used against those defending public workers’ rights.
And with our recently announced national expansion, the Freedom Foundation will now be in a position not only to defend the First Amendment on the West Coast, but anywhere in the nation where workers’ rights are threatened by government union tyranny.