California’s Donor Disclosure Requirement Ended by the Supreme Court


By Hannah Claire Brimelow

Nonprofits do not have to disclose the names of their wealthy contributors according to a new ruling by the Supreme Court.

The decision invalidated a California requirement that organizations who fundraise release the names of top supporters to the state’s attorney general’s office. Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the Thomas More Law Center challenged the policy out of concern that the lack of privacy would deter donors.

The court ruled 6-3 on Thursday that the law is ‘facially unconstitutional.’ The court sided with the conservative groups, saying that such disclosure requirements infringe on the First Amendment,” reported Fox News.

Under California’s regulation, known as Schedule B, top donors’ names and addresses were collected by the state. This practice was regarded by some officials as a necessary way for preventing fraud. 

In filings with the Supreme Court, AFPF argued its most substantial donors face potential harassment and threats if their identities are publicly disclosed and said California has violated a pledge to keep the IRS forms confidential. While federal law forbids the IRS from disclosing the information on the form, AFPF told the Supreme Court in filings that it discovered the attorney general’s office had publicly posted nearly 1,800 forms online,” CBS News documented.

In her dissent, Justice Sonya Sotomayor said “Today’s analysis marks reporting and disclosure requirements with a bull’s-eye. Regulated entities who wish to avoid their obligations can do so by vaguely waving toward First Amendment ‘privacy concerns.’”

Ultimately, though, these concerns took precedence over the state’s claims.

“We are left to conclude that the attorney general’s disclosure requirement imposes a widespread burden on donors’ associational rights. And this burden cannot be justified on the ground that the regime is narrowly tailored to investigating charitable wrongdoing, or that the state’s interest in administrative convenience is sufficiently important,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in an opinion. 

HuffPost noted that “the nonprofits had drawn strong support from groups across the political spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.” The website also referred to these affluent supporters as “dark money donors.”

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9 responses to “California’s Donor Disclosure Requirement Ended by the Supreme Court”

  1. ctiraterra@gmail.com says:

    Facially unconstitutional based on the first amendment? Okay kind of weird. So then by this logic shouldn’t this also apply to the second amendment?

    Chief Justice John Robers stated We are left to conclude that the attorney general’s disclosure requirement imposes a widespread burden on donors’ associational rights. And this burden cannot be justified on the ground that the regime is narrowly tailored to investigating charitable wrongdoing, or that the state’s interest in administrative convenience is sufficiently important

    So it would stand to reason that by extension a persons right to buy a gun and have to tell the gun shop, state and federal agency my info as well as all of the hoops that have to be jumped through would fall under this ruling. I mean law abiding gun owners are targeted and are burdened.

    • Groundhoggie says:

      In this situation, not necessarily right? Because gunowner’s info are not being posted online. So there’s no unreasonable “burden” for the gun owner. Now if the state started posting gun owner info online or did something in the same vein im order to promote gun buybacks or discourage gun ownership then yes I think what you said is valid

  2. KDiddy says:

    All I gotta say, Chase those crazy baldheads out of our town! Here comes the con man, coming with his con plan.

  3. vagabondancer says:

    Also wanted to just comment and say thank you. Nice down the middle piece with just the facts. Looking forward to Tim’s new website. The mobile experience can definitely be improved. But excellent content guys!

  4. UppityG says:

    Regarding this SCOTUS ruling, in light of the weaponization of the Court of Public Opinion by shadowy character assassin groups like Sleeping Giants (on Twitter), this is a welcome development. Had they not used such disclosures to select targets for smearing and canceling, this move would not be necessary.

    As for Brimelow, welcome to the team, looking forward to more of your work. Honest journalism is all I want and what I paid for.

  5. MadManTV says:

    Glad to see Hannah writing for such a great news outlet. What Tim is doing is absolutely phenomenal.