On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court took up two vitally important cases dealing with the freedom of speech and association. Back in 2015, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) demanded that two conservative nonprofit organizations, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), hand over their donor lists. This demand threatened to reveal the identity of donors, potentially subjecting them to threats and harassment for supporting these groups. It also flew in the face of a 1958 Supreme Court decision upholding Americans’ right to support causes they believe in without government harassment.
“It is beyond debate that the freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” The Supreme Court wrote in the landmark case NAACP v. Alabama (1958). The State of Alabama had ordered the NAACP to hand over a list of its members during the era of segregation when the Ku Klux Klan held tremendous power in the state. The Supreme Court defended the NAACP from this government harassment.
Richard Thompson, chief counsel and president of TMLC, argued that the Supreme Court should defend his organization from California’s assault on free speech, just as it did for the NAACP.