Tim Sackton via Flickr

The Supreme Court handed a major win to advocates of the first amendment on Thursday, striking down a California law that required non-profits in the state to reveal their largest donors.

As The LA Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Thursday extended new privacy rights to conservative charities that raise money in California, ruling they may not be required to reveal their big donors to the California attorney general.

The justices by a 6-3 vote ruled the forced disclosures violate the freedom of association that is protected by the 1st Amendment. This is particularly so, the court said, because conservative groups and their donors fear they will be the target of harassment by left-leaning opponents.

They did so citing a landmark ruling from the civil rights era. In 1958, the high court shielded the NAACP from revealing its members to the state of Alabama on the grounds Blacks and civil rights advocates faced threats, intimidation and even violence. The justices said then 1st Amendment protects not just the freedom of speech but also freedom to associate with others in support of political causes.

“We are left to conclude that the attorney general’s disclosure requirement imposes a widespread burden on donors’ associational rights,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “And this burden cannot be justified on the ground that the regime is narrowly tailored to investigating charitable wrongdoing,”

The ruling will protect many conservative organizations from liberal activists and regimes, such as the one currently running Sacramento.

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