The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 this week that California’s donor disclosure requirement violated donors’ First Amendment rights and is thus unconstitutional. State officials upset with the decision should thank Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, both of whom served as California’s attorney general at different times, for making it necessary. Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, speaks during a press conference at Howard University in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court ruling is a damning condemnation of Harris and Xavier Becerra

Kaylee McGhee White July 02, 03:43 PM July 02, 03:48 PM

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 this week that California’s donor disclosure requirement violated donors’ First Amendment rights and is thus unconstitutional. State officials upset with the decision should thank Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, both of whom served as California’s attorney general at different times, for making it necessary.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that California didn’t even bother to enforce the donor disclosure requirement until 2010, which is when Harris became the state’s attorney general. At that time, Harris’s office demanded that all nonprofit groups seeking to raise money in the state report the names and addresses of their major donors nationwide. And although she claimed this information would be kept private, Roberts noted a lower court found that California “was unable to ensure the confidentiality of donors’ information.”

One of the nonprofit organizations that sued the state “identified nearly 2,000 confidential Schedule Bs that had been inadvertently posted to the Attorney General’s website, including dozens that were found the day before trial,” Roberts wrote. An expert witness for the plaintiffs “also discovered that he was able to access hundreds of thousands of confidential documents on the website simply by changing a digit in the URL.”

In other words, California not only demanded that nonprofit groups hand over confidential, sensitive data, but it also then made that data available to the general public by opening up these disclosures to public record requests and failing to supervise the third-party vendors who accessed the registry.

And who was the one responsible for these mistakes? Harris’s office — and, later, Becerra’s.

Roberts agreed with the lower court that California’s donor disclosure requirement had a “chilling” effect on potential donors, many of whom had good reason to remain anonymous. He pointed to evidence provided by the plaintiffs that several of their supporters had been “subjected to bomb threats, protests, stalking, and physical violence.” Despite this, Harris and Becerra continued to compile a wealth of information, including sensitive details such as an individual donor’s home address, and took to court any nonprofit organization that refused to comply with the mandate.

Harris and Becerra proved time and time again throughout their respective tenures as California’s attorney general that they did not care one lick about constitutional liberties. Harris spent years targeting the Americans for Prosperity Foundation simply because it was funded by the libertarian-conservative Koch brothers, and Becerra used the majority of his time in office to sue Catholic nuns who believed that Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate violated their religious beliefs.

At least the Supreme Court saw Harris and Becerra as the power-hungry authoritarians that they are. Let’s hope that the next California attorney general is better.

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