Supreme Court Ruling in California Donor Disclosure Case Protects Right of Association

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The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled against California’s law requiring charitable organizations to disclose the identities of their major donors to the attorney general’s office. The court said the disclosure requirement is invalid because it burdens donors’ First Amendment rights and is not narrowly tailored to an important government interest. CEI attorney Devin Watkins praised the court’s decision:

“California’s compelled disclosure regime was unnecessary from the start, considering only once did the state ever use the information to investigate suspected wrongdoing.  Meanwhile, the disclosure regime did have a damaging outcome when the donors of thousands of charities were improperly, accidentally made publicly available on California’s website. Today, the Supreme Court correctly found that California’s claim of ‘convenience’ as justification for the requirement failed to justify stripping donors of their constitutional right of association. That right is jeopardized when a person’s charitable donations are forced to be disclosed even privately, as the risk of improper public leaks resulting in harassment and intimidation will chill that First Amendment protected activity.”

  • View more about the case, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, on