Image shows a group of mostly African American young people in front of the Center Theatre. A
Photo Courtesy DigitalNC, the Charles S. Killebrew Photograph Collection*

Democrats’ sordid history of forced donor disclosure

It’s an incredibly ugly piece of history, yet, in H.R. 1, Democrats have revived the plan to take away the right to privately donate to nonprofits. But Locke’s Jon Guze hasn’t forgotten the history that dates back to the 1950s, history grounded in the work of the NAACP to fight discrimination. Here’s what really happened in the 1950s — and who was behind it.

From Virginia to Florida and from North Carolina to Texas, Democratic state attorneys general and Democratic state lawmakers demanded that the civil rights organization divulge its supporters’ names as a condition for operating within their states. 

They assumed many supporters would withdraw their support if doing so meant risking reprisals from segregationists, and they were right. Between 1955 and 1957, the civil rights organization’s southern membership declined by more than 50%. 

Rather than allow the Democrats to run it out of the state, the NAACP’s Alabama affiliate challenged the disclosure requirement in federal court, and in 1958 it won a decisive victory.  

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s disclosure law. Unfortunately, instead of finding that the law was unconstitutional on its face, the court found it was unconstitutional as it applied to the NAACP in that particular case.  

That narrow ruling is what gives today’s Democrats their opening. 

It’s a shameful piece of history. Yet, today’s Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have revived their push to force that donor names be disclosed. While some might think that a 2021 revival of forced disclosure isn’t a big deal, Jon vehemently disagrees. He notes that our right to privately join with others who share our views or ideals is fundamental to a free society.

We’re fortunate that several North Carolina lawmakers are taking a stand to defend freedom and privacy at the state level. Several bills have been filed in the North Carolina Senate. But still, H.R. 1 looms large. If passed into law, H.R. 1 could render moot any state-based efforts to protect privacy. We’re living in strange times, an era of political correctness that rewards monolithic thinking and punishes those who dare to have a different point of view.

Now you know why Locke is paying such close attention to H.R. 1. Your privacy is at stake.

 

*Photo Courtesy DigitalNC

Donna Martinez / Senior Writer and Editor

Donna came to the John Locke Foundation in January 2003 after freelance writing for Carolina Journal and contributing to projects for the North Carolina Education Alliance. He...