SCOTUS’s California Ruling Isn’t a Win for ‘Conservatives’ or the ‘Rich,’ It’s a Win for Free Speech

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The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., July 2, 2020 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a unconstitutional California law that required charities to report the identities of their major donors.

Here is how National Public Radio explains AFPF v. Bonta:

BREAKING: The Supreme Court has struck down a California law requiring nonprofits to disclose their large donors with the state — siding with rich donors and their desire to remain anonymous.

— NPR (@NPR) July 1, 2021

Here is the New York Times:

Breaking News: The Supreme Court rejected California’s requirement that charities report the identities of major donors, siding with conservative groups who said the disclosures could lead to harassment.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 1, 2021

The Times goes on to note that the law was challenged by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, “a group affiliated with the Koch family,” and the Thomas More Law Center, “a conservative Christian public-interest law firm.” But, as Casey Mattox points out, it’s possible “that no constitutional case has ever seen the diversity of amici present in AFPF v Bonta.” Among the groups that filed amicus briefs arguing that the law was an violation of the First Amendment were the ACLU, NAACP, the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Human Rights Campaign, PETA, PEN, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The decision itself notes:

The gravity of the privacy concerns in this context is further underscored by the filings of hundreds of organizations as amici curiae in support of the petitioners. Far from representing uniquely sensitive causes, these organizations span the ideological spectrum, and indeed the full range of human endeavors: from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund; from the Council on American-Islamic Relations to the Zionist Organization of America; from Feeding America—Eastern Wisconsin to PBS Reno. The deterrent effect feared by these organizations is real and pervasive, even if their concerns are not shared by every single charity operating or raising funds in California.

Many in political media simply can’t help themselves. They synthesize everything through the prism of race or class — or both — and are unable to comprehend that neutral constitutional principles can often go beyond those issues.

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