The Gaspee Project v. Mederos - Liberty Justice Center

The Gaspee Project v. Mederos

Every American should feel free to speak out and support causes they believe in, without fear of retribution or retaliation. But in Rhode Island, speaking up comes at a price: your privacy.

State law requires anyone who donates more than $1,000 to a nonpartisan, issue advocacy group to be reported if the group engages in advocacy at certain times of the year. The supporter’s name, job title, employer, home address and donation amount are posted to a government website for public viewing. 

In the weeks leading up to an election or referenda, the group must also list the names of their top five financial supporters on any marketing or messages – regardless of whether these individuals support that particular position or want their name to be publicized.

This makes someone who supports an unpopular or controversial idea susceptible to retaliation or harassment. The only option for someone to avoid having personal information made public is to not donate or to limit their financial support, effectively chilling their right to free speech. 

By conflating electoral and issue advocacy, the state has opened up opportunities for organizations and individuals to be “named and shamed” – or worse – for their positions on certain issues.

The Gaspee Project et al. v. Mederos challenges Rhode Island’s unconstitutional disclosure requirements and seeks to restore individuals First Amendment rights.

Background

The Gaspee Project et al. v. Mederos et al. was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on Nov. 21, 2019. The lawsuit was filed by the Gaspee Project, a social-welfare organization based in Cranston, Rhode Island, and Illinois Opportunity Project, a nonpartisan, 501(c)4 organization that engages in issue advocacy.

Briefs

Complaint 11/21/2019

Corporate Disclosure Statement 12/06/2019

Memorandum and Order 08/28/2020

Defendants' Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss 04/30/2020

Plaintiffs' Notice of Suppl. Authority 07/22/2020

Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Notice of Supplemental Authority 07/24/2020

Judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island 08/28/2020

Plaintiffs' Notice of Appeal of U.S. District Court Judgment 09/28/2020

Appellants' Principal Brief and Addendum 12/10/2020

Appellants' Appendix 12/10/2020

Appellants' Brief 02/10/2021

Amicus Brief by Campaign Legal Center 02/17/2021

Appellants' Brief 02/24/2021

Amicus Curiae Brief 02/24/2021

Appellants' Reply Brief 03/04/2021

Opinion, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit 09/14/2021

Appendix, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit 09/14/2021

Notice of Cert Petition Filed 12/15/2021

Respondents' Brief in Opposition 03/07/2022

Petition for Cert 03/22/2022

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