Background: Senate Bill 59 would prohibit a public agency from requiring any person or nonprofit organization to provide the public agency with personal information or otherwise compel the release of personal information. It would also forbid the release or publication of personal information in a public agency's possession.
Our Position: We support SB 59. The First Amendment interests in freedom of association prohibit the government from compelling disclosure of membership lists of political organizations and private associations. The Supreme Court has affirmed this precedent in multiple cases, including a unanimous decision in the landmark decision of NAACP v. Alabama by which the court ruled the National Advancement for the Association of Colored People (NAACP) was not required to release its membership list due to the members First and Fourteenth Amendment protections, which supersede state law and the state’s interest. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also submitted an amicus brief in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta arguing the state’s blanket demand for tax document identifying major donors to nonprofit organizations violated First Amendment rights to privacy.