Justice Ginsburg and the value of anonymity - The Wall Street Journal - Liberty Justice Center

Justice Ginsburg and the value of anonymity – The Wall Street Journal

Liberty Justice Center attorney Daniel Suhr provided his opinion on donor privacy, in light of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing and Judge Ginsburg’s legacy, to The Wall Street Journal.

The excerpt below is from an article by Daniel Suhr that appeared October 15, 2020, in The Wall Street Journal.


Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island showed up to Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s hearing with a red marker pen and made-for-TV charts. He portrayed her as the product of a right-wing conspiracy organized by the Federalist Society and other nonprofit groups, which he calls “dark money” organizations because they protect donors’ privacy.

Mr. Whitehouse didn’t mention that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at Federalist Society events, which host jurists and legal experts from all sides of the political spectrum—or that Ginsburg’s career as a women’s-rights lawyer was made possible by anonymous donors.

For people who challenge the powerful in the name of individual rights, anonymity and privacy are essential safeguards. As founding director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg took on high-profile, politically charged cases. Today her work is widely praised, but at the time it was a disruptive assault on the status quo.

Meanwhile, her ACLU colleagues were in court defending donor privacy. Justice Thurgood Marshall—who himself argued in court on behalf of NAACP members’ privacy before becoming a judge—wrote in California Bankers Association v. Shultz (1974) that the government may not run “roughshod over the First Amendment rights of the hundreds of lawful yet controversial organizations like the ACLU.”

The ACLU continues its fight for citizens’ privacy. I recently represented a conservative advocacy group that sued to stop a New Jersey law imposing “donor disclosure” mandates on nonprofit groups. The ACLU joined the challenge. An Obama-appointed judge recognized that today’s donors live “in a climate marked by the so-called cancel or call-out culture that has resulted in people losing employment, being ejected or driven out of restaurants while eating their meals; and where the Internet removes any geographic barriers to cyber harassment of others.”


Read the full article on The Wall Street Journal.

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