Coming Soon: SCOTUS and the First Amendment
Any day now the Supreme Court should release their decision in the Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra, now Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta decision. At stake is nothing less than First Amendment protections for donors, as well as donor privacy.
The case considers whether California’s donor-disclosure laws requiring reporting of detailed donor information, information which typically remains private, is allowed to stand. Every American should be concerned about this type of detailed donor disclosure. Whether you support a church or mosque; a conservative or progressive cause, if the California law stands, your name will be on a government list, and you will be susceptible to harassment.
ALEC knows this story too well. Our organization has been subjected to the sort of threats and retaliation designed to deter First Amendment activity. In 2013, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin sent an official letter to more than 300 suspected corporate and individual ALEC supporters demanding they disclose contributions to the organization. Senator Durbin stated, “I intend to convene a hearing … and I intend to include your responses to my letters in the hearing record.”
Unsurprisingly following disclosure of ALEC support, real harassment and intimidation significantly impacted ALEC membership and funding. That same sort of lying and harassment continues today, literally just this week.
The ALEC experience provides a stark example of the burdens and costs visited upon private associations when ideological opponents, including public officials like Senator Durbin, harass their members. It is a lesson in the misuse of disclosure affirmed by the Supreme Court in the 1958 NAACP v. Alabama decision.
ALEC decided to tell its story to the Court via an amicus brief in this case so that the Court would understand the importance of curtailing such behavior. You can, and should, read the brief here.
As soon as the Court hands down its ruling we will have more to discuss so stay tuned!