Amicus Brief: AFP v. Baccera

by Bartlett Cleland

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Introduction

“Every American should be concerned about this type of detailed donor disclosure,” said ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson. She continued, “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 interest in these appeals arises from the critical importance of its members’ ability to associate and participate in policy discussions freely and candidly without fear of government or private retaliation.

ALEC is all-too-familiar with 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.”

“It should come as no surprise that following disclosure of ALEC support, real harassment and intimidation significantly impacted ALEC membership and funding,” said ALEC Counsel Bartlett Cleland. “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.”

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