Why everyone should oppose disclosing donor lists of 501(c)(4) orgnaizations

Quantum Windbag

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May 9, 2010
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In a word, retaliation.

The issue came up in the midst of the Jim Crow era when Alabama wanted to keep the NAACP from being able to organize. The state actually sued them to get their donor list, and they maintained, correctly, that they had a constitutional right to keep it secret. SCOTUS agreed with them in a unanimous decision.

It is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute as effective a restraint on freedom of association as the forms of governmental action in the cases above were thought likely to produce upon the particular constitutional rights there involved. This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations. When referring to the varied forms of governmental action which might interfere with freedom of assembly, it said in American Communications Assn. v. Douds, supra, at 339 U. S. 402:
"A requirement that adherents of particular religious faiths or political parties wear identifying armbands, for example, is obviously of this nature."
Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order. Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs. Cf. United States v. Rumely, supra, at 345 U. S. 56-58 (concurring opinion).
We think that the production order, in the respects here drawn in question, must be regarded as entailing the likelihood of a substantial restraint upon the exercise by petitioner's members of their right to freedom of association. Petitioner has made an uncontroverted showing that, on past occasions, revelation of the identity of its rank-and-file members has exposed these members to economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility. Under these circumstances, we think it apparent that compelled disclosure of petitioner's Alabama membership is likely to affect adversely the ability of petitioner and
NAACP v. Patterson - 357 U.S. 449 (1958) :: Justia US Supreme Court Center

Modern day progressives/liberals/Democrats want to claim that they are the intellectual descendents of the groups who fought for civil rights, the truth is that they are the intellectual descendents of the segregationists.

The clandestine influence of the Kochs and their Palm Springs friends would be much reduced if they were forced to play in the sunshine.

Bonus points if you can point out the fundamental lie that is the heart of the NYT editorial.


Dec 9, 2013
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San Antonio Area
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Political speech is the paramount exercise of freedom of speech protected under the First Amendment above. How can Congress or the IRS seek to tax that speech with rules defining it? As SCOTUS has said, "the power to tax is the power to destroy." Is that exactly what they have endeavored to do by setting arcane rules defining how much political speech is allowed by 501(c)4 organizations? Why should those organizations be restricted to political activities less than 50% when 100% fall under complete exemption of the First Amendment?

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