The day before a slim Senate vote confirmed Xavier Becerra as the new secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency, the former California Attorney General discreetly signed a settlement that would pay out over $150,000 in legal fees.
The cause of the lawsuit? A faulty registration website.
The California Attorney General’s Office clearly does not have an excellent track record when it comes to maintaining records online, as is evidenced by the facts of a case being argued next week before the U.S. Supreme Court.
California requires all nonprofit organizations who solicit donations in the state to disclose the names and addresses of major donors to the California Attorney General’s Office on an annual basis, even though it has no compelling need for the information. Thomas More Law Center (TMLC)—a legal nonprofit that promotes faith and family values—is challenging the requirement. And it’s easy to see why.
The California AG’s Office has leaked information like a sieve, publicly disclosing donors’ names and addresses on the internet. This creates a perfect target for hackers by uploading thousands of confidential documents to the cloud, where they were easily discovered. This opens up donors to harassment and intimidation for engaging in activities protected by the First Amendment.
California defended its disclosure rules despite the obvious dangers to donors in releasing their private information via the internet.
Take for example, ChinaAid, a non-profit human rights group promoting religious freedom in China. This group filed an amicus brief in support of TMLC. In it, they detail some of the dangers they face on a regular basis, including not only death threats, but also bounties placed on the heads of their members and founders in California and Texas.
The simple fact remains that there are nearly endless ways damage can be done in the age of cancel culture. Oftentimes, all it takes is a computer.
So as oral arguments approach, we ask that you please join with us and pray over this case in the following ways:
1. For those in danger of violence or harassment due to the release of their private information – The basis of this case is the right for all to donate to their favorite charities, free from fear of harassment. But some information has already been made public, and there is no going back to stop that. Please pray for protection over those who are at risk.
2. For the attorneys representing TMLC in court – Please pray for clarity of mind as they prepare for oral arguments.
3. For the justices hearing the case – That they would see the inherent danger in California’s policy and prioritize constitutional rights and donor privacy.
It’s not often a case can draw such unity across our deeply divided culture, but amicus briefs have been filed from all corners of the ideological spectrum, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and several others.
A win for the Thomas More Law Center is a win for all Americans and our right to associate freely.
Let’s pray that the high court sees it that way.
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