U.S. Supreme Court Supports Christian Groups, Charities to Conceal Donor Names


The desire by California to ensure that nonprofit organizations reveal the identities of their key donors has been squashed by the U.S. Supreme Court. On this note, the court took the side of a Christian legal group, The Thomas More Law Centre, who stood against the demand of the state.

Other Christian and religious freedom organizations argued against California that such demand can dampen the spirit of individuals who want to give charitably. It is even more discouraging if the donations are for groups who support issues that usually strike a debate. 

Americans for Prosperity Foundation pushed forth the case alongside the Thomas More Law Center.

On IRS Schedule B (to Form 990), there is a California law that requests nonprofits to reveal the names and addresses of their key donors to the attorney general of the state. However, the plan was to make the information private but it has since gotten to the public.

On Thursday, a -3 ruling authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and monitored by Christian Headlines, stated that the law breaches the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court’s conservative bloc constituted the majority. Roberts wrote,

“The upshot is that California casts a dragnet for sensitive donor information from tens of thousands of charities each year, even though that information will become relevant in only a small number of cases involving filed complaints. 

"California does not rely on Schedule Bs to initiate investigations, and in all events, there are multiple alternative mechanisms through which the Attorney General can obtain Schedule B information after initiating an investigation.”

Apart from California, Roberts said that two other states had the requirement. He continued.

“The petitioners here, for example, introduced evidence that they and their supporters have been subjected to bomb threats, protests, stalking, and physical violence. 

"Such risks are heightened in the 21st century and seem to grow with each passing year, as ‘anyone with access to a computer [can] compile a wealth of information about’ anyone else, including such sensitive details as a person’s home address or the school attended by his children.”

The Thomas More Law Center was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). They applauded the judgment of the court. In his remark, the senior counsel of ADF, John Bursch said,

“The Supreme Court has confirmed that every American is free to peacefully support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation. Public advocacy is for everyone, not just those able to weather abuse. 

"Forced donor disclosure is a threat to everyone and discourages both charitable giving and participation in the marketplace of ideas. The court correctly upheld the First Amendment’s promise of the freedom to associate with like-minded groups, which includes the right to donor privacy.”

In addition, First Liberty Institute also praised the ruling. It filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Citizen Power Initiatives for China. The president of First Liberty Institute, Kelly Shackelford said,

“The freedom to associate with others of like mind is indispensable to freedom. Again today, the Supreme Court recognized that the disclosure of names and addresses of citizens simply for belonging to a cause is chilling to the freedom of association. 

"Cancel culture is bad enough without the government forcing organizations to reveal the names of their donors so they can be attacked.”

Americans for Prosperity Foundation pushed forth the case alongside The Thomas More Law Center.

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