The Supreme Court has recently decided to stop the controversial campaign finance law in California.
With a 6-3 majority, the Supreme Court judges struck down a law that mandated nonprofit organizations to reveal their donor information to the state.
While many individuals and organizations supported the decision, fearing that such a law could lead to political targeting and might breach the First Amendment, many leftist commentators expressed their dissatisfaction with the rule.
David Cole, the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was one of the decision’s critics.
He initially tweeted that the lack of the proposed Californian law might make it harder to prove that voter suppression occurred and easier for larger donations to stay off the radar.
Quite confusingly, Cole retracted his tweet several hours later, writing a new one in which he supported the decision by saying that it protects crucial association rights and does not doubt campaign finance disclosure agreements.
Many social media users ridiculed Cole’s inconsistency.
Yet, the explanation of such behavior most likely lies in the fact that ACLU supported its partner Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) in bringing the case against Californian lawmakers before the Supreme Court.
What is more, Cole’s name is one of those that appeared on the amicus brief that supported the AFPF’s pursuit.
The background of the case
The lawsuit against the Californian law was jointly filed by AFPF and the Thomas More Law Center, and supported by numerous organizations, including the left-leaning ACLU and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The organizations feared that the new law, even though it does not make the donor information public, might lead to data leaks that might endanger donor’s reputation and standing.
The groups also emphasized that the proposed law threatens the freedom of association.
Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote the decision, characterized the proposed law as a “facially unconstitutional blanked demand” for donor disclosure which imposes an unacceptable burden on association rights.
Other judges, such as Justice Sonya Sotomayor, opposed the majority’s ruling.
Sotomayor said that there was no precedent or common sense to support the decision.
Many commentators, however, pointed to the Citizens United case as an example of the relevant precedent, adding that the past donor information leakage conclusively counts against the Californian law.