Americans for Prosperity v. Rodriquez
Does the policy of the California attorney general’s office requiring charities to disclose the names and addresses of their major donors violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?Advocates
- Derek L. Shaffer, for the Petitioners
- Elizabeth B. Prelogar, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting vacatur and remand
- Aimee A. Feinberg, for the Respondent
The California Attorney General’s office has a policy requiring charities to provide the state, on a confidential basis, information about their major donors, purportedly to help the state protect consumers from fraud and the misuse of their charitable contributions. Petitioner Americans for Prosperity (and the petitioner in the consolidated case, Thomas More Law Center) did not file complete lists of their major donors with the California Attorney General’s office, despite filing complete lists with the federal Internal Revenue Service, as required by federal law.
In response to demands by the California Attorney General that they file the complete lists, the organizations filed a lawsuit alleging that the filing requirement unconstitutionally burdened their First Amendment right to free association by deterring individuals from financially supporting them. The organizations provided evidence that although the state is required to keep donor names private, the state’s database was vulnerable to hacking, and many donor names were repeatedly released to the public. But a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected that argument, based on its conclusion that “exacting scrutiny” rather than “strict scrutiny” was the appropriate standard, and “exacting scrutiny” requires only “a substantial relation between the disclosure requirement and a sufficiently important governmental interest.”
During the argument, Justice Sotomayor asked Mr. Shaffer, for the petitioners, a question suggesting that California’s policy should survive exacting scrutiny. Specifically, she asked how the petitioners can reconcile their view of exacting scrutiny/narrow tailoring with the Court’s opinion in Doe v. Reed, 561 U.S. 186 (2010). My answer explains why Doe is not on point.Americans for Prosperity v. Rodriquez on Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-251