Thomas More Society lauds Supreme Court’s ruling on donor disclosure (Chicago, IL) – The Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, celebrated Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a California regulation requiring nonprofits to reveal the names and contribution amounts of their largest donors to the government.
“We applaud the Supreme Court for protecting the First Amendment rights of donors to support organizations like ours without risk of being exposed to the gauntlet of cancel culture,” Thomas More Society counsel Michael McHale said in a statement. “This decision sends California’s donor disclosure mandate to the ash heap of First Amendment history while protecting all people’s right to associate with organizations that promote their own values – including the oft-disfavored values life, family and religious freedom.”
The stated intent of the rule from the California Attorney General’s office (an office previously held by now Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra) was to identify fraud. But the legal action brought by The Thomas More Law Center (unaffiliated with the society) and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation argued that revealing their donors would set them up for harassment and that they didn’t trust the attorney general’s assurances that the names would be kept confidential. TMS filed an amicus brief on behalf of the groups.
A district court agreed but a 9th Circuit panel reversed “treating public interest organizations as political campaigns which had typically received less protection under the First Amendment,” the Thomas More Society statement said.
But the Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit and held that “California had shown no actual need to collect organizations’ top donor information, and that the mandate imposed an unconstitutional chill on donors’ First Amendment right to associate with the organizations of their choice.”
The Thomas More Society said Thursday’s decision was particularly relevant “because it has actively challenged California’s government in its unjust criminal pursuit of pro-life journalist David Daleiden and its now-debunked COVID-19 ban on religion in a Supreme Court case, South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom.”
“There is little doubt that California’s mandate would have significantly damaged organizations like ours that are so active in California in representing courageous champions of life, family, and religious freedom,” McHale added. “We’re thankful that yet another blatantly unconstitutional California law has been swept aside by the Supreme Court and that donors’ freedom to support 501(c)(3) organizations without fear of reprisal has been restored under the First Amendment.”
Thomas More Society lauds Supreme Court’s ruling on donor disclosure