Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: July 1, 2021
  • Case #: 19–251
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part II– B–1. KAVANAUGH and BARRETT, JJ., joined that opinion in full, ALITO and GORSUCH, JJ., joined except as to Part II–B–1, and THOMAS, J., joined except as to Parts II–B–1 and III–B. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which GORSUCH, J., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

Despite the “sufficiently important governmental interest” in preventing fraud in charitable organizations, the universal compelled disclosure requirement of major donors was not “narrowly tailored” to that interest in order to pass "exacting scrutiny" as applied to burdens on freedom of association.

Petitioners are charitable organizations required to file IRS Form 99, including Schedule B disclosing major donors and contributions to Respondent. See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, §301. Petitioners filed suit in district court, alleging First Amendment violations to their organizations and donors associational rights. The District Court accepted Petitioners’ facial challenge and granted a preliminary injunction. The Ninth Circuit reversed. On remand the lower court permanently enjoined Respondent from collecting the tax documents because it was not “narrowly tailored” as required by the “exacting scrutiny” standard. The Ninth Circuit reversed. On appeal, the Supreme Court held despite the “sufficiently important governmental interest” in preventing fraud, Respondent’s compelled disclosure requirement was not “narrowly tailored” to that interest. To survive Petitioners’ facial challenge, the court noted Respondent could not justify the universal disclosure requirement. The documents were not used in a majority of circumstances to initiate an investigation of fraud, and Respondent’s argument of administrative efficiency does not “reflect the seriousness of the actual burden” on Petitioner’s First Amendment rights. Doe v. Reed, 561 U. S. 186, 196 (2010). REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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