After a long journey through the legal system, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) finally has its day at the highest court in the land.
The TMLC case is at the Supreme Court because California requires all nonprofit organizations who solicit donations in the state to disclose the names and addresses of major donors to the state’s attorney general’s office on an annual basis, even though it has no compelling need for the information. What’s more, the office has a history of carelessly leaking donor names and addresses online, opening the possibility that donors experience harassment and intimidation for engaging in activity protected by the First Amendment.
These protections matter, and that’s why ADF is representing TMLC before the Supreme Court today.
Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, we are guaranteed the freedom of association. That means we all have the freedom to choose which groups or causes we associate with, which includes whom we donate money to.
But think about this scenario for a moment. If you knew your private information and the organizations you support would be exposed to politicians like the attorney general of your state and the public, you may think twice about donating to those organizations. In today’s hyper-partisan environment, where cancel culture seems to lurk around every corner, there are potential risks to supporting organizations and causes that aren’t in vogue or don’t conform to the cultural zeitgeist. If the right of donor privacy is degraded, every time you want to support a charity or a non-profit organization whose mission you believe in, you would have to first ask yourself, “is it worth the risk?”
We’ve seen what happens when someone’s personal information is released online with the intent to cause them harm. When it’s private entities or individuals that reveal this information, it’s known as “doxing.” Doxing has ruined careers and resulted in public shaming, and it hurts people and causes across the ideological spectrum. When it’s the government’s fault that donor information is revealed, it’s more than “doxing”—it’s a violation of the First Amendment.
The bottom line is that all Americans should be free to peacefully support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation. Their information needs to be kept private for the sake of their safety and liberty, and for the sake of our democracy.
California officials are undermining these cornerstones of our country, and the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to rule against this.
Your voice matters. To show your support for donor privacy, click here and sign the statement today.