Supreme Court Strikes Down CA Donor Disclosure Law

July 1, 2021

Today, the Supreme Court nullified a California law that required nonprofit organizations to disclose a list of major donors, including names and addresses, to the State. While California is required to keep disclosures private from the public, opponents of the law say that does not happen.

In a 6-3 ruling authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court said California had subjected donors to the threat of public harassment and intimidation, undermining their First Amendment right to free association.

“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,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan dissented, saying the challengers to the California law did not show the donors wanted privacy or were burdened by disclosure. “Today’s analysis marks reporting and disclosure requirements with a bull’s-eye,” Sotomayor wrote for the group. “Regulated entities who wish to avoid their obligations can do so by vaguely waving toward First Amendment ‘privacy concerns.’”

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