SCOTUS Asked to Overturn 9th Circuit Ruling that Lets Calif. Harass Charitable Donors

‘The 9th Circuit has opened the door for the major donors of thousands of charities to be exposed and chilled through California’s dragnet…’

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(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A conservative nonprofit is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allows state governments to track and monitor their major donors.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation is fighting California for requiring nonprofit to disclose the names of private donors who gave the organization $5,000 or more in order to fund-raise in the state.

Doing so would violate the privacy of many donors, AFP argued, and even put them in danger.

“Charities should not have to show that their donors have been subject to the terroristic threats the NAACP suffered in the 1950s before they will be allowed to keep their donor lists private,” said Paul Sherman, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which filed a friend of the court brief on AFP’s behalf.

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“By that time, the harm to private speech and association has already been done. But that is the standard the 9th Circuit’s ruling forces charities to meet if they want to protect their donors’ privacy.”

AFP has said in its petition to the Supreme Court that the 9th Circuit did not fairly apply “exacting scrutiny” standards.

“The 9th Circuit has opened the door for the major donors of thousands of charities to be exposed and chilled through California’s dragnet,” the petition states, according to Reuters. “If this court declines review, the resulting chill will be profound and lasting.”

The 9th Circuit concluded that California’s directive was lawful for the same reason that political referendums and petitions must disclose the signed names.

AFP disagreed: “There is a categorical distinction between the election context, where compelled public disclosure can be an affirmative good, and the non-election context, where compelled disclosure (even to government itself) is at best a necessary evil,” the petition said.

“This case has nothing to do with elections or any claimed interest in public transparency,” it said.