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Supreme Court of the United States
April 26, 2021, Argued; July 1, 20211, Decided
Nos. 19-251 and 19-255.
Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part II-B-1.
To solicit contributions in California, charitable organizations must disclose to the state Attorney General’s Office the identities of their major donors. The State contends that having this information on hand makes it easier to police misconduct by charities. We must decide whether California’s disclosure requirement violates the First Amendment right to free association.
The California Attorney General’s Office is responsible for statewide law enforcement, including the supervision and regulation of charitable fundraising. Under state law, the Attorney General is authorized to “establish and maintain a register” of charitable organizations and to obtain “whatever information, copies of instruments, reports, and records are needed for the establishment and maintenance of the register.” Cal. Govt. Code Ann. §12584 (West 2018). In order to operate and raise funds in California, charities generally must register with the Attorney General [*2380] and renew their registrations annually. §§12585(a), 12586(a). Over 100,000 charities are currently registered in the State, and roughly 60,000 renew their registrations each year.
California law empowers the Attorney General [***10] to make rules and regulations regarding the registration and renewal process. §§12585(b), 12586(b). Pursuant to this regulatory authority, the Attorney General requires charities renewing their registrations to file copies of their Internal Revenue Service Form 990, along with any attachments and schedules. See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, §301 (2020). Form 990 contains information regarding tax-exempt organizations’ mission, leadership, and finances. Schedule B to Form 990—the document that gives rise to the present dispute—requires organizations to disclose the names and addresses of donors who have contributed more than $5,000 in a particular tax year (or, in some cases, who have given more than 2 percent of an organization’s total contributions). See 26 CFR §§1.6033-2(a)(2)(ii)(f), (iii) (2020).
The petitioners are tax-exempt charities that solicit contributions in California and are subject to the Attorney General’s registration and renewal requirements. Americans for Prosperity Foundation is a public charity that is “devoted to education and training about the principles of a free and open society, including free markets, civil liberties, immigration reform, and constitutionally limited government.” Brief for Petitioner Foundation 10. Thomas More Law Center [***11] is a public interest law firm whose “mission is to protect religious freedom, free speech, family values, and the sanctity of human life.” Brief for Petitioner Law Center 4. Since 2001, each petitioner has renewed its registration and has filed a copy of its Form 990 with the Attorney General, as required by Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, §301. Out of concern for their donors’ anonymity, however, the petitioners have declined to file their Schedule Bs (or have filed only redacted versions) with the State.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
141 S. Ct. 2373 *; 210 L. Ed. 2d 716 **; 2021 U.S. LEXIS 3569 ***; 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 1071; 2021 WL 2690268
AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY FOUNDATION, Petitioner (No. 19-251) v. ROB BONTA, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA
Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Prior History: [***1] ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
Ams. for Prosperity Found. v. Becerra, 903 F.3d 1000, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 25700 (9th Cir. Cal., Sept. 11, 2018)
Disposition: (2) in the first amendment context, the court has recognized a “type of facial challenge, whereby a law may be invalidated as overbroad if a substantial number of its applications are unconstitutional, judged in relation to the statute's plainly legitimate sweep.” United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. 460, 473, 130 S. Ct. 1577, 176 L. Ed. 2d 435 (internal quotation marks omitted). the attorney general's disclosure requirement is plainly overbroad under that standard. the regulation lacks any tailoring to the state's investigative goals, and the state's interest in administrative convenience is weak. as a result, every demand that might deter association “creates an unnecessary risk of chilling” in violation of the first amendment. Secretary of State of MD. v. Joseph H. Munson Co., 467 U.S. 947, 968, 104 S. Ct. 2839, 81 L. Ed. 2d 786. it does not make a difference in these cases if there is no disclosure to the public, see Shelton, 364 U.S., at 486, 81 S. Ct. 247, 5 L. Ed. 2d 231, if some donors do not mind having their identities revealed, or if the relevant donor information is already disclosed to the irs as a condition of federal tax-exempt status. california's disclosure requirement imposes a widespread burden on donors' associational rights, and this burden cannot be justified on the ground that the regime is narrowly tailored to investigating charitable wrongdoing, or that the state's interest in administrative convenience is sufficiently important. pp. ___ - ___, 210 l. ed. 2d, at ___ - ___.
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Business & Corporate Law, Nonprofit Corporations & Organizations, Management Duties & Liabilities, Administrative Law, Agency Rulemaking, State Proceedings, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Freedom to Petition, Freedom of Speech, Scope, Political Speech, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Overbreadth & Vagueness of Legislation, Governments, Legislation, Overbreadth, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation