Arguing for the charities’ right of free association, a public interest law firm and a charitable group co-founded by the Koch brothers had challenged the disclosure of information, stating that the requirement chills donor contributions.
The attorney general of California requires charities on its registry to submit federal tax forms listing the names and addresses of their largest donors. Though there is a ban on the public release of this information, the charities maintained that individuals would be deterred from making contributions based on the risk of public disclosure.
The court found that the right of association was not infringed by requiring the disclosure of the charitable donor information. In its opinion, the court wrote that the “mere possibility that some contributors may choose to withhold their support does not establish a substantial burden on First Amendment rights.” The court also stated that “donor information is collected for nonpublic use, and the risk of inadvertent public disclosure is slight.”
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