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August 2, 2021
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a California rule requiring nonprofits to disclose the names and addresses of their largest donors, delivering a victory to a pair of conservative groups that had challenged the requirement as unconstitutional.
The 6-3 decision, which divided the nine justices along ideological lines, reversed a 2018 appeals court ruling siding with California’s attorney general. The rule had forced nonprofits to give the state their so-called Schedule B forms, which include the personal information of all donors nationwide who had contributed more than $5,000 in a given tax year. The state had argued that it needed that information to help it police misconduct by charities.
In its decision, the court cited a landmark ruling from the civil rights era. In 1958, the high court shielded the NAACP from revealing its members to the state of Alabama on the grounds Black people and civil rights advocates faced threats, intimidation and even violence. The justices said then that the 1st Amendment protected not just the freedom of speech but also the freedom to associate with others in support of political causes.
In dissent in the California case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that the state oversees one-fourth of the nation’s charitable assets. “Today’s decision discards decades of 1st Amendment jurisprudence recognizing that reporting and disclosure requirements do not directly burden associational rights,” she wrote.
Last year, conservatives and democrats filed appeals in the Supreme Court, which agreed in January to decide them together. When the case reached the court, a broad array of nonprofit and civil liberties groups — many of them liberal-leaning — urged the justices to protect donors from disclosure. The Philanthropy Roundtable applauded the decision.
ARTICLE: JENNIFER BARRETO-LEYVA
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST