CNBC is reporting today that the Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that California charities do not have to reveal a list of their donors.
The article reports:
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a California rule requiring nonprofits to disclose the names and addresses of their largest donors, delivering a victory to a pair of conservative groups that had challenged the requirement as unconstitutional.
The 6-3 decision, which divided the nine justices along ideological lines, reversed a 2018 appeals court ruling siding with California’s attorney general.
The rule had forced nonprofits to give the state their so-called Schedule B forms, which include the personal information of all donors nationwide who had contributed more than $5,000 in a given tax year. The state had argued that it needed that information to help it police misconduct by charities.
“We do not doubt that California has an important interest in preventing wrongdoing by charitable organizations,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion.
But “there is a dramatic mismatch” between “the interest that the Attorney General seeks to promote and the disclosure regime that he has implemented in service of that end,” Roberts wrote.
The conservative chief justice noted that about 60,000 charities renew their registration each year, and that virtually all of them were required to provide a Schedule B form.
“This information includes donors’ names and the total contributions they have made to the charity, as well as their addresses. Given the amount and sensitivity of this information harvested by the State, one would expect Schedule B collection to form an integral part of California’s fraud detection efforts. It does not,” Roberts wrote.
As much as I believe in transparency in donations, the Supreme Court was right to protect the names of the donors. A number of years ago, donors who supported a ballot referendum were harassed because of their donations. Unfortunately, that is not an unusual event. Americans need to be free to give to the charities of their choice without being harassed for their donations.