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Four Takeaways from the Supreme Court’s Nonprofit-Donor Disclosure Case

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Then-California attorney general Kamala Harris in 2011. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) A win for the First Amendment over the creepy authoritarianism of Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning, in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, held that the First Amendment bars California’s attorney general from demanding that every nonprofit that raises money in the state disclose its donors to the AG or face being banned from soliciting California donors. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the Court’s opinion, from which the three liberals dissented.

Here are four big takeaways from the decision:

One: A big loss for the creepy authoritarianism of Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. Harris, and her successor Becerra, ran the California AG’s office for most of the years at issue in AFPF v. Bonta. The two conservative groups that brought the case were targeted by Harris in 2012-13, right around the time the IRS was going hammer and tongs after Tea Party groups. This case got this far in large part because of the actions of Harris and Becerra in trampling on the First Amendment rights of nonprofits and their blithe disregard for the privacy and safety of donors. The impact of their ineptitude was so egregious that it shocked the trial judge and attracted the criticism of maybe the broadest pan-ideological coalition of interest groups ever to take the same side in a Supreme Court case.

Under Harris and Becerra, the California attorney general’s office was callous with the security of sensitive donor information. The trial disclosed extensive evidence that the California AG’s office “systematically failed to maintain the confidentiality” of donor lists (filed on a form called Schedule B):

1,778 Schedule Bs had been posted online; in some cases, the AG had known for years of the public disclosures and did not notify the nonprofits. Not all of these were conservative organizations, either; one victim was Planned Parenthood. Evidence showed that the registry of some 350,000 Schedule Bs was “an open door for hackers.” The AG’s office interpreted

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