The Center for Competitive Politics is an educational organization under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, but to solicit charitable contributions in California must register with California’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, administered by California’s Department of Justice. To maintain its registered status, the Center must file an annual report with the California Attorney General, which includes an unredacted Schedule B of IRS Form 990. Since registering in 2008, the Center submitted only its redacted Schedule B, but in 2014, for the first time, the Attorney General demanded an unredacted Schedule B.
In March of 2014, the Center filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the Attorney General from requiring an unredacted Schedule B. The Center argued that the demand “unconstitutionally infringes on its First Amendment freedom of association[,]” because any limit on associational freedom must be narrow and specific and in pursuit of a compelling government interest. The California federal district court disagreed, demanded proof of actual constitutional injury, and denied the injunction.
On May 1, 2015, a Ninth Circuit panel held that the Center failed to show an actual burden on its or its supporters’ First Amendment rights; thus, the Attorney General’s law enforcement purpose was enough to justify the harm to those rights. The panel affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Constitution reads, “No county, city, town, township fees.
On July 30, 2015, the Center filed its petition. On September 2, 2015, in a brief written by Pacific Legal Foundation, MSLF and five other nonprofits asked the Court to review whether the Attorney General’s demand is constitutional.