How did we get to the point where “liberals” want to chip away at the freedoms of speech and association while conservatives defend it? It’s weird: I’m old enough to remember when those mean old conservatives were always trying to silence dissent, not to mention vulgarity and violent TV shows and movies.
But in the final day of the Supreme Court’s term, the 6-3 conservative majority ruled that California—from which all terrible ideas now seem to flow— may not require charities soliciting contributions in the state to report the identities of their major donors. The law was opposed by very unconservative voices like those of ACLU to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and one would think that the alleged liberals on the court would immediately recognize how the law could and would chill free speech. Or don’t they pay attention to the incidents where CEOs have been run out of their jobs for contributing money to anti-gay marriage organizations, to name just one example? It would seem not. This is also weird, for the cancel culture has made simply stating an opinion that contradicts the Woke Borg perilous to one’s career, personal relationships and safety. Is it overly conspiracy-minded to suggest that progressives want it that way, particularly with their success at making wiggly-spined Americans who would make Patrick Henry retch grovel for forgiveness.
Chief Justice Roberts neatly summarized the importance of free association, writing,
“The First Amendment prohibits government from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This Court has “long understood as implicit in the right to engage inactivities protected by the First Amendment a corresponding right to associate with others.” Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U. S. 609, 622 (1984). Protected association furthers “a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends,” and “is especially important in preserving political and cultural diversity and in shielding dissident expression from suppression by the majority.” Ibid. Government infringement of this freedom “can take a number of forms.” Ibid. We have held, for example, that the freedom of association may be violated where a group is required to take in members it does not want, see id., at 623, where individuals are punished fortheir political affiliation, see Elrod v. Burns, 427 U. S. 347, 355 (1976) (plurality opinion), or where members of an organization are denied benefits based on the organization’s message, see Healy v. James, 408 U. S. 169, 181–182 (1972).“
“We have also noted that “[i]t is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute as effective a restraint on freedom of association as [other] forms of governmental action.” NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U. S. 449, 462 (1958). NAACP v. Alabama involved this chilling effect in its starkest form.”
That last, of course, is what’s at stake here, and I would say obviously so. California, a veritable nest of nascent leftist totalitarians, would love to starve non-profits with politically incorrect missions by making their largest donors targets of protests and boycotts. “Eh, so what?” is the reaction of the Court’s progressive wing, as Justice Sotomajor, speaking for the three dissenters, writes that there is “scant evidence” that those donors to unpopular causes in California would face any harm if forced to surrender anonymity. A more disingenuous argument would be difficult to imagine.
Roberts’ analysis concluded, “When it comes to the freedom of association, the protections of the First Amendment are triggered not only by actual restrictions on an individual’s ability to join with others to further shared goals. The risk of a chilling effect on association is enough.”
Exactly. And now we must depend on a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to block the Left’s attempts at enforced ideological conformity.
Read the opinions here.