Supreme Court donor decision a defeat for Kamala Harris

Many media experts will reflexively view the recent Supreme Court ruling in tear down California’s rule requiring nonprofit groups to disclose their top donors as a victory for conservatives like Charles Koch. While the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) group associated with Koch has been the main claimant challenge the law, this 6-3 decision of the judges should also be seen as a loss for the vice president Kamala harrisKamala HarrisBiden has a “range of options” to respond to Russian cyber attacks. The Hill’s Morning Report – GOPers 2024 Target: Go Cautiously, Don’t Bother Trump Harris, in Upbeat Speech Says America “Getting Back to Work” MORE.

It was Harris, the former California Attorney General, who first interpreted state charitable regulations to require nonprofits (501c3) to report all donations over $ 5,000. via the IRS Schedule B donor list.

On the surface, Harris was simply guarding against nonprofit breaches of law, personal transactions, or conflicts of interest. But his rule was like asking everyone to send him their checking account statements, just in case someone was laundering money. As a law enforcement officer, she had the right to subpoena IRS files, but it appeared to be a fishing expedition in search of what is called “black money.” “, The supposedly harmful influence machine of the right.

The Supreme Court decision shouldn’t be associated with Harris just because she made the initial requirement on nonprofits. She was also the first to strictly enforce the law and she persisted in defending it even after a first court ruling against her.

After more than a decade – during which California deemed AFP in compliance with state law, although the organization did not file a list of its top donors – Harris chose to reinterpret the law to mean that a filing with the IRS was not sufficient. When AFP refused to comply, fearing the personal information of conservative donors would be leaked, Harris doubled down. AFP therefore took the matter to court. A ruling in his favor by the federal district court did not deter Harris or his successors in the state attorney general’s office. The state won a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, but has now lost in the country’s highest court.

It is worth mentioning what Harris must have neglected in order to persist in defending his interpretation of California’s charitable law. She must have ignored a key 1958 Supreme Court precedent decision which rescinded Jim Crow of Alabama’s requirement that the NAACP disclose donor information. At the time, it was practically an invitation to lynching. Harris had to ignore the fact that the district court cited “threats, protests, boycotts, retaliation and harassment directed against those publicly associated with AFP.” It should also minimize the fact that “inadvertent” disclosures of donor information had already taken place and that information leaks often occurred (see recent disclosure tax returns from some of America’s richest businessmen).

It’s hard to see Harris’s interpretation of California law as anything other than a partisan political piece that was unnecessary for his law enforcement role and potentially motivated by Democratic hysteria about ” black money ”conservative – even if the political left relies on complex organizations. channel funds to its own causes.

Thus, the Supreme Court ruling appears to be a defeat for Harris, as well as for his successor, Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraBiden officials release first rules implementing ban on surprise medical bills GOP lawmakers call on Britney Spears to testify before Congress amid guardianship battle Democratic senators call for more data on guardianship the light of the Britney Spears case MORE, who is now the Federal Secretary for Health and Social Services. Both were prepared to ignore the potentially chilling effect they imposed on the right to free speech of anyone supporting a controversial group, the disclosure of which donors might fear.

Let’s stop judging the public positions of an organization based on who might be its private supporters. This is as true for the American Civil Liberties Union, which supported Koch’s position in this case, as it is for AFP. Both deserve to have their arguments judged on the merits, and not on the basis of their sources of money.

Howard Husock is an adjunct researcher at American Institute of Business and a member of senior management with the Roundtable on philanthropy.


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