Americans for Prosperity Foundation
Rob Bonta, Attorney General of California
Supreme Court of the United States
On writ of certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) applauds the United States Supreme Court’s decision affirming the right of freedom of association for all Americans.
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, said, “Today, the Court clarified that the right of freedom of association protects not just membership in an organization, but the right to donate to organizations of one’s choosing, and the right to do so anonymously.”
The case, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, involved a challenge to California’s policy requiring charitable organizations to turn over private information about major donors (including those who reside outside of California).
Two non-profit organizations, Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Thomas More Law Center, refused to comply with the demand and took then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris to court.
The Court, by a vote of 6-3, held that California’s blanket demand that all charities disclose donor information to the state Attorney General is facially unconstitutional.
A wide range of organizations from across the political spectrum, including IWLC, supported the non-profits.
In the landmark 1958 case of NAACP v. Alabama, the Court unanimously held that the state may not compel non-profits to hand over their membership lists, as disclosure could expose members “to economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility.”
The Court’s decision today makes clear that the same principles also apply to donations.
IWLC argued in its brief that the California policy discourages philanthropic gifts to women’s organizations and causes and also discourages female philanthropists from giving to organizations that take a stand on controversial policy issues.
“Throughout our history, women have contributed anonymously to important social movements, including the suffragist and abolitionist movements,” Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at Independent Women’s Forum, explained. “The ability to donate and to participate anonymously was critical to these women, as it has been to all donors who fear retaliation, wish to avoid unwanted publicity, or seek to give in ways that conform to the tenets of their faith.”