Politics A freedom on which all can agree; will the Supreme Court?
Breaking down the Left's Supreme Court agenda
A Democratic proposal to add four justices to the U.S. Supreme Court is one of several changes sought by liberal activists determined to rein in the high court's conservative majority.Democratic members of the House and Senate introduced legislation on Thursday that would raise the number of justices on the court from nine to 13 — a move that sparked immediate pushback from Republicans.
In our polarized national moment, the U.S. Supreme Court often rules on divisive issues. A few elites, including, would have you believe that is the case in , which the court will hear on Monday. But the public should know that this case is not divisive: an astoundingly diverse coalition of public-interest groups across the ideological spectrum all agree on what the outcome should be.
The plaintiffs, Thomas More Law Center and Americans for Prosperity Foundation, are nonprofit organizations challenging the California attorney general's requirement that all charities fundraising in the state annually provide the office with their Schedule B 990 forms, which contain the names and addresses of top donors. The AG's office claims this policy is necessary to thwart fraud. But in practice, the policy does nothing to prevent fraud while creating alarming privacy risks for donors nationwide.
The 2020 election still hovers over the Supreme Court
Five months after the presidential election and nearly 100 days into President Joe Biden's term, the Supreme Court is still considering whether to take up a case related to voting rights in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. © Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images People hold campaign flags supporting President Donald Trump outside of the US Supreme Court on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
Though California has been attempting to enforce this policy for about a decade, it has never once used a Schedule B to initiate a fraud investigation. And when the state initiates an investigation, it has never had a problem obtaining a Schedule B with a specific request. The policy's only purpose is to force innocent nonprofits to disclose their donors' private information so California can collect it.
If the California attorney general had difficulty obtaining a suspected fraudulent charity's Schedule B, the AG can simply ask the IRS. The IRS even has an expedited process to give this information to states more quickly, but the AG's Office refused to allow the IRS to conduct a three-day audit of California's security system, which was necessary to participate in that program.
Supreme Court passes on Second Amendment cases challenging lifetime gun ownership ban
The Supreme Court declined to hear three Second Amendment cases challenging a federal ban on gun ownership for people convicted of nonviolent crimes.By not taking the appeals, the nation's highest court let stand a series of lower court rulings that prohibited people convicted of driving under the influence, making false statements on tax returns and selling counterfeit cassette tapes from owning a gun.
Video: Why is America's justice system so unfair? (MSNBC)
The reason for that refusal seems dangerously clear: the California attorney general's office has leaked confidential donor information like a sieve. In 2009, it publishedonline. At one point, anyone could see all the Office's Registry of Charitable Trusts' confidential documents by altering a single digit at the end of a URL. Other California government agencies have leaked private information as well, including , , and .
Given California's careless handling of private information, its demand for donor data threatens to decrease charitable giving, particularly to charities that work on sensitive issues. That's why organizations ranging from, to , to the have filed briefs that agree with my employer (Alliance Defending Freedom)'s merits brief on behalf of the Law Center, urging the court to strike down California's dangerous regulation.
Lessons from India on the issue of Supreme Court justice term limits
In response to increasing calls to reform the Supreme Court, President Biden has appointed a judicial commission to study the possibility of increasing the size of the Supreme Court and adopting term limits for justices. The judicial commission should avoid falling into the trap that the United States has little to learn from other countries.The experience of the Supreme Court of India, the largest common law court in the world with jurisdiction over one billion people, suggests that imposing term limits on justices of the Supreme Court of the United States could negatively impact judicial independence.
Needless government demands for the private information of nonprofit supporters violate the Free Association Clause of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court first reached a similar determination in the landmark 1958 decision,, when the state of Alabama demanded the civil rights organization to provide the state with its membership lists. The policy had an obviously detrimental effect on the NAACP's membership; NAACP membership in southern states declined by 50 percent due to such regulations. It's no wonder the U.S. Supreme Court against the state of Alabama.
Thankfully, most nonprofit donors today don't face the same level of hostility NAACP members faced in the 1950s. But the same principles apply. For example, Thomas More Law Center's clients, donors, and employees have faced harassment, death threats, and even two assassination plots. If Law Center supporters had their names and addresses leaked online, they would have good reason to fear ideological opponents doxing them, blackmailing them, or threatening their families' safety.
The freedom to support charities anonymously is an activity all Americans have a right to enjoy, and that right is guaranteed under the Free Association Clause. California's government has no legitimate interest - let alone a "compelling" one - to justify its demand for private donor information from charities that have done nothing wrong. In our polarized, political climate, the right to donor privacy must be protected. The Supreme Court should recognize this and reverse.
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy for( ), which represents Thomas More Law Center in Thomas More Law Center v. Rodriquez.
Roe v. Wade Fast Facts .
Read CNN's Fast Facts for a look at the US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. © Alex Wong/Getty Images/FILE WASHINGTON, DC - Pro-choice activists hold signs as marchers of the annual March for Life arrive in front of the US Supreme Court January 22, 2014. Pro-life activists from all around the country gathered in Washington for the event to protest the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973 that helped to legalize abortion in the United States.