A summer whose entertainment headlines were dominated by Taylor Swift and her blowout concert tour just…
CFIF on Twitter CFIF on YouTube
Event Ticket Purchases: The Proposed BOSS Act Would Empower Biden’s Rogue FTC and Make Matters Worse, Not Better

A summer whose entertainment headlines were dominated by Taylor Swift and her blowout concert tour just came to an end.  Unsurprisingly, a significant number of those headlines centered upon the ongoing public policy debate over the consumer ticket purchase experience, along with varying and differing calls for reform.

Unfortunately, some of that discussion served to introduce terribly ill-advised proposals that would only make the industry and American consumers’ enjoyment of it far worse.

To be sure, the genesis of the problem underlying various reform proposals is the issue of predatory ticket resellers who engage in harmful practices that hurt fans as well as the artists themselves.  As just one illustration, resale ticket prices at StubHub alone have increased over 100% since…[more]

September 26, 2023 • 07:25 PM

Liberty Update

CFIFs latest news, commentary and alerts delivered to your inbox.
Court Halts Liberal Campaign to Intimidate Conservative Donors Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 05 2016
Despite that Supreme Court decision, public officials and vindictive private citizens persist in demanding access to membership records and donor lists of conservative and libertarian organizations whose missions they deem unacceptable.

Throughout American history, our First Amendment freedoms of speech and association have frequently demanded the security of anonymity. 

Without that protective anonymity, Americans seeking to bring about political change or introduce politically incorrect opinions into the marketplace of ideas risk persecution by government officials or public vigilantes.  Even James Madison and Alexander Hamilton authored the Federalist Papers under pseudonyms, and today's world of cyberstalking, Google Earth and Internet shaming make protective anonymity even more vital. 

During the civil rights era in 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court squarely addressed the issue of anonymity as it relates to freedom of speech and association it NAACP v. Alabama.  What the Court held then rings just as true today. 

In that case, Alabama officials had demanded that the NAACP surrender membership lists and other records in a transparent effort to silence and intimidate its supporters.  The Supreme Court rejected their effort and held that compulsory disclosure of the sort mandated by state authorities rendered members' First Amendment rights effectively void: 

"[O]n past occasions revelation 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 the consequences of this exposure." 

The Court went out of its way to emphasize that its concern extended to harassment by private individuals just as much as public officials: 

"It is not sufficient to answer, as the State does here, that whatever repressive effect compulsory disclosure of names of petitioner’s members may have upon participation by Alabama citizens in petitioner’s activities follows not from state action but from private community pressures.  The crucial factor is the interplay of governmental and private action, for it is only after the initial exertion of state power represented by the production order that private action takes hold." 

Despite that Supreme Court decision, public officials and vindictive private citizens persist in demanding access to membership records and donor lists of conservative and libertarian organizations whose missions they deem unacceptable.  Anyone requiring confirmation need only look to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) harassment of pro-Israel and conservative nonprofit groups, or California citizens driven from their jobs simply for advocating a position on marriage that a majority of state voters supported at the ballot box. 

A recent federal court ruling in California vindicates donor privacy and the logic underlying NAACP v. Alabama

Since 2013, Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris has targeted nonprofit groups to fuel her political career and solidify her liberal bona fides.  Specifically, she has attempted to force nonprofit groups to surrender unredacted donor lists and identifying information. 

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), an organization Barack Obama demonized by name, decided to fight back against this unconstitutional intrusion into donors' First Amendment rights.  And in an encouraging opinion, Judge Manuel Real (appointed by President Lyndon Johnson, it should be noted) cited NAACP v. Alabama in enjoining Attorney General Harris's scheme. 

The Attorney General rationalized her campaign by claiming that she merely sought to prevent "self-dealing" and "improper loans," even though AFP isn't in the banking business.  Judge Real dismissed that claim, holding that, "over the course of trial, the Attorney general was hard pressed to find a single witness who could corroborate the necessity of Schedule B forms in conjunction with their office's investigations." 

Ominously, Judge Real also highlighted his "serious concern" over the way in which the Attorney General's office failed to make good on its claim to protect donor information from public disclosure.  "[T]he Attorney General has systematically failed to maintain the confidentiality of Schedule B forms," Judge Real noted, recognizing that AFP supporters had suffered harassment and retaliation as a result. 

Appropriately, Judge Real concluded by reaffirming NAACP v. Alabama:  "[A]lthough the Attorney General correctly points out that such abuses are not as violent or pervasive as those encountered in NAACP v. Alabama or other cases from that era, this Court is not prepared to wait until an AFP opponent carries out one of the numerous death threats made against its members." 

Government officials simply cannot be trusted with confidential information on the candidates and issues we as private citizens choose to support.  Similarly, our neighbors, employers, coworkers or others who wish us harm cannot be trusted with sensitive information including our names, addresses, telephone numbers and places of employment simply for exercising our First Amendment rights. 

Thankfully, some judges continue to elevate First Amendment rights over ongoing efforts to diminish them. 

Notable Quote   
"A disturbing report on the quality of living conditions at military barracks, released by the General Accountability Office (GAO), reflects a failure of America's military leaders, who are supposed to look out for and care for the well-being of their people.While inspecting 10 barracks, GAO investigators observed numerous potentially serious health and safety risks: mold and mildew, bug infestations…[more]
— Rear Adm. (Ret.) Tom Jurkowsky, Author and Board Member for the Military Officers Association of America
Liberty Poll   

In your opinion, how likely is a federal government shutdown at the end of September, based on budgetary and other disagreements in the fractured House of Representatives?