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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
June 25, 2018, Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California; September 11, 2018, Filed
No. 16-55727, No. 16-55786, No. 16-56855, No. 16-56902
[*1004] FISHER, Circuit Judge:
We address the constitutionality of a California charitable registration requirement as applied to two non-profit organizations that solicit tax-deductible contributions in the state. Americans for Prosperity Foundation (the Foundation) and Thomas More Law Center (the Law Center) qualify as tax-exempt charitable organizations under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3). They challenge the Attorney General of California's collection of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [**6] Form 990 Schedule B, which contains the names and addresses of their relatively few largest contributors. The Attorney General uses the information solely to prevent charitable fraud, and the information is not to be made public except in very limited circumstances. The plaintiffs argue the state's disclosure requirement impermissibly burdens their First Amendment right to free association by deterring individuals from making contributions.
The district court held that the Schedule B requirement violates the First Amendment as applied to the Foundation and Law Center and permanently enjoined the Attorney General from demanding the plaintiffs' Schedule B forms. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we vacate the injunctions, reverse the judgments and remand for entry of judgment in the Attorney General's favor.
We hold that ] the California Attorney General's Schedule B requirement, which obligates charities to submit the very information they already file each year with the IRS, survives exacting scrutiny as applied to the plaintiffs because it is substantially related to an important state interest in policing charitable fraud. Even assuming arguendo that the plaintiffs' contributors would face substantial harassment if [**7] Schedule B information became public, the strength of the state's interest in collecting Schedule B information reflects the actual burden on First Amendment rights because the information is collected solely for nonpublic use, and the risk of inadvertent public disclosure is slight.
] California's Supervision of Trustees and Charitable Trusts Act requires the Attorney General to maintain a registry of charitable corporations (the Registry) and authorizes him to obtain "whatever information, copies of instruments, reports, and records are needed for the establishment and maintenance of the [Registry]." Cal. Gov't Code § 12584. To solicit tax-deductible contributions from California residents, an organization must maintain membership in the Registry. See id. § 12585. Registry information is open to public inspection, subject to reasonable rules and regulations adopted by the Attorney General. See id. § 12590.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
903 F.3d 1000 *; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 25700 **
AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY FOUNDATION, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. XAVIER BECERRA, in his Official Capacity as Attorney General of California, Defendant-Appellant.AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY FOUNDATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. XAVIER BECERRA, in his Official Capacity as Attorney General of California, Defendant-Appellee.THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. XAVIER BECERRA, in his Official Capacity as Attorney General of the State of California, Defendant-Appellant.THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. XAVIER BECERRA, in his Official Capacity as Attorney General of the State of California, Defendant-Appellee.
Subsequent History: Later proceeding at Ams. for Prosperity Found. v. Becerra, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 29102 (9th Cir. Cal., Oct. 16, 2018)
Rehearing, en banc, denied by Ams. for Prosperity Found. v. Becerra, 919 F.3d 1177, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9267, 2019 WL 1412351 (9th Cir., Mar. 29, 2019)
Stay granted by Ams. for Prosperity Found. v. Becerra, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9859 (9th Cir. Cal., Apr. 3, 2019)
Stay granted by Thomas More Law Ctr. v. Becerra, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23261 (9th Cir. Cal., Aug. 2, 2019)
Later proceeding at Thomas More Law Ctr. v. Becerra, 140 S. Ct. 1102, 206 L. Ed. 2d 176, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 1089, 2020 WL 871685 (U.S., Feb. 24, 2020)
Later proceeding at Americans for Prosperity Found. v. Becerra, 140 S. Ct. 1102, 206 L. Ed. 2d 176, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 1131, 2020 WL 871684 (U.S., Feb. 24, 2020)
US Supreme Court certiorari granted by Thomas More Law Ctr. v. Becerra, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 488 (U.S., Jan. 8, 2021)
US Supreme Court certiorari granted by Americans v. Becerra, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 489 (U.S., Jan. 8, 2021)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:14-cv-09448-R-FFM. Manuel L. Real, District Judge, Presiding.
Americans for Prosperity Found. v. Harris, 182 F. Supp. 3d 1049, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53679 (C.D. Cal., Apr. 21, 2016)Thomas More Law Ctr. v. Harris, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158851, 2016 WL 6781090 (C.D. Cal., Nov. 16, 2016)
Disposition: INJUNCTIONS VACATED; JUDGMENTS REVERSED; CASES REMANDED.
attorney general, contributors, disclosure, Registry, harassment, contributions, disclosure requirements, threats, confidential, regulation, donors, public disclosure, district court, reprisals, organizations, plaintiffs', governmental interest, collection, rights, audit, deter, public inspection, investigations, reasonable probability, charitable trust, inadvertent, charitable, injunction, donations, website
Business & Corporate Compliance, Nonprofit Corporations & Organizations, Business & Corporate Law, Nonprofit Corporations & Organizations, Tax Law, State & Local Taxes, Administration & Procedure, Federal Taxpayer Groups, Exempt Organizations, Charitable, Religious & Scientific Organizations, Civil Procedure, Trials, Bench Trials, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Association, Equal Protection, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Judgments, Preclusion of Judgments, Law of the Case