Earlier this week, the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom joined with the Buckeye Institute, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the National Taxpayers Union in asking the Supreme Court to strike down California’s requirement that nonprofit groups provide the government with lists of their donors. This spring, the Ninth Circuit held that it was not unconstitutional for California Attorney General Kamala Harris to require such public interest groups to supply her office with a list of their significant contributors. That court wrote:
In order to prevail on a motion for a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show a likelihood of success on the merits and that irreparable harm is not only possible, but likely, in the absence of injunctive relief. Winter, 555 U.S. at 20. CCP has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits. Because it is not likely that the Attorney General’s disclosure requirement injures CCP’s First Amendment rights, or that it is preempted by federal law, it is not likely that CCP will suffer irreparable harm from enforcement of the requirement. Thus, CCP cannot meet the standard established by Winter.
We strongly disagree, and explain why in our amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to grant a writ of certiorari (i.e. hear the case):
The Ninth Circuit’s holding that the Attorney General’s actions do not impose a First Amendment injury conflicts with this Court’s consistent recognition that compelled disclosure chills the freedom to associate. That chilling effect is of particular concern to amici. Indeed, retaliation against public interest groups like the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), amici, and the donors that support them is an increasingly common occurrence. Today’s technology, moreover, exacerbates the speed and impact of such harassment. The Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that compelled disclosure will not discourage potential donors from associating with these organizations is wrong, and contrary to authority in other circuits. This Court should grant the writ to clarify the circumstances in which a party’s First Amendment freedom to associate is impermissibly abridged by state action.