On Monday, the New Civil Liberties Alliance filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court supporting petitioners against Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra’s attempt as attorney general of California to out nonprofit donors for leftist harassment.
“The attorney general’s demand that charities turn over the names of their top donors is nothing more than state-sponsored cancel culture,” said Michael DeGrandis, an NCLA lawyer. “The Constitution guarantees not only the right to associate but also privacy in one’s associations. In an increasingly polarized environment, people across the political spectrum face harassment, loss of employment, and even violence because of their viewpoints and the people with whom they associate.”
The plaintiffs are relying on the precedent set by the landmark 1958 case NAACP v. Alabama that ruled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People did not have to publicly disclose its members. The government is loosely relying on the 2010 case Citizens United and Doe v. Reed, which created laws mandating public disclosure of donors for campaigns. However, it is unclear how the case about private donors relates to election disclosure procedures—since the California case pertains to charities in general that are not necessarily affiliated with ongoing campaigns.
“Becerra has violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as applied to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment by requiring charities to turn over a list of their major supporters,” the amicus brief states. “His demand has undermined the rights of speech and associational freedom, and it has impinged on the philanthropic freedom of supporters who want to give anonymously. Furthermore, Becerra’s actions have blatantly shifted lawmaking from elected legislators to California’s executive branch.”
The NCLA says this case is about “cancel culture,” since mobs and activist groups will use knowledge of political ties to harm nonprofits once their donors are outed.
“They [Democrats] have everything to lose. They’re reaching for more. They feel the fear of what’s happening on the ground below them through the Supreme Court and throughout the country, that things are changing,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said on The Federalist Radio Hour on Feb. 25, discussing Becerra’s nomination. “They are choosing to overreach in a way they never even hinted at in the past. And as they overreach, they expose themselves.”
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Xavier Becerra at a date to be determined. It is a consolidation of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in 2018 to mandate that charities disclose major donors.
President Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services sat for his confirmation hearings last week in front of the Senate.