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NEW YORK (July 14, 2021) — The Liberty Justice Center, a national public interest law firm that fights for constitutional rights and free speech, has sued the Attorneys General of New York and New Jersey over the states’ unconstitutional policy requiring nonprofits to disclose private information about their donors. The Supreme Court has repeatedly found that donor information can be kept confidential to protect Americans’ free speech rights and protect them from harassment.
“Privacy is necessary to protect Americans’ right to support causes they believe in,” said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “New York and New Jersey are ignoring the Supreme Court by continuing to require organizations to turn over private information about their donors. Americans have a right to support causes and organizations they believe in without the government subjecting them to invasive requirements and possible harassment.”
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.
The Liberty Justice Center is demanding New York Attorney General Letitia James and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal immediately abandon their states’ 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 New Jersey. The Center is represented by private attorneys in this lawsuit.
Laws like New York and New Jersey’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 and New Jersey require 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.
The Liberty Justice Center has challenged overreaching donor disclosure laws violating free speech in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island. The attorneys previously secured victories against other requirements in Montana and New Jersey. Challenges in New Mexico and Rhode Island are ongoing.
Liberty Justice Center v. James was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Liberty Justice Center v. Grewal was filed in the United States District Court for New Jersey.
The complaints can be found here: