On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the importance of donor privacy in protecting free speech in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta. In that decision overturning California’s overreaching donor disclosure requirements, the justices delivered a win for the First Amendment, ensuring supporters of popular and unpopular causes alike are safe from the whims of cancel culture.
In a federal lawsuit, the Liberty Justice Center is demanding New York Attorney General Letitia James immediately abandon the state’s disclosure requirements and align their requirements with the decision in Bonta, which shut down a nearly identical overbroad policy in California. The Liberty Justice Center is a registered charity in New York and is represented by private attorneys in this lawsuit.
Laws like New York’s discourage the exercise of free speech by violating the privacy of charitable donors and organizations. Instead of a tax return, nonprofits file a Form 990 with the IRS which catalogs their expenses and revenues. New York requires nonprofits to share their Form 990 with the states’ charities offices. This includes the confidential Schedule B, which lists contributors and their contribution amounts. A state’s failure to safeguard this information can lead to harassment and retaliation against everyday Americans who support different charitable causes.
Privacy is integral to a country that respects our freedom to speak and associate freely, whether the topic at hand is controversial or not. By ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court and forcing charitable organizations to turn over the donors’ private information, New York is violating Americans’ right to free speech.
The Liberty Justice Center has filed a similar lawsuit in New Jersey, Liberty Justice Center v. Grewal.
Case update: Victory! On April 6, 2022, the Liberty Justice Center filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal after the state’s rule was changed to remove the Schedule B reporting requirement at issue in the case.