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Archive for September, 2019
September 12th, 2019 at 9:59 am
First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy
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In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the privacy of American citizens, which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) is critical to preservation and exercise of the First Amendment’s rights to free speech, freedom of association and freedom to petition government:

Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association, as this Court has more than once recognized by remarking upon the close nexus between the freedoms of speech and assembly.  It is beyond debate that 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, which embraces freedom of speech…  This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations…

The Supreme Court in that seminal ruling rightly drew a straight-line connection between privacy of one’s associations and donations and the ability to exercise one’s First Amendment freedoms:

[R]evelation of the identity of its rank-and-file members has exposed these members to economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility.  Under these circumstances, we think it apparent that compelled disclosure of petitioner’s Alabama membership is likely to affect adversely the ability of petitioner and its members to pursue their collective effort to foster beliefs which they admittedly have the right to advocate, in that it may induce members to withdraw from the Association and dissuade others from joining it because of fear of exposure of their beliefs shown through their associations and of the consequences of this exposure. 

That logic applies with even greater force today, as we’ve witnessed time after time, because of the modern ability to instantly identify, locate and stalk people whose political views one finds disagreeable.

As we’ve further noted, the IRS acknowledges that it doesn’t even use the collected information for any substantive purpose in enforcing the nation’s tax laws, and the IRS isn’t even the agency in charge of enforcing so-called “campaign finance reform” laws in any case.  Accordingly, the information only serves to expose people to potential targeting.

CFIF enthusiastically supports this IRS decision, which will help protect the right of American citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights.

September 3rd, 2019 at 10:01 am
Image of the Day: Freedom = Prosperity, 2019 Edition
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As the 2020 election gets closer and calls for more and more government intervention increase, a handy visual reminder from Heritage that freedom, not intervention, means prosperity:

Freedom = Prosperity

Freedom = Prosperity