AFP Foundation Wins Lawsuit vs. AG Kamala Harris

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Court rules in favor of Americans for Prosperity Foundation: Demands by AG Kamala Harris Ruled Unconstitutional

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From Judge Real's ruling: "While human error can sometimes be unavoidable, the amount of careless mistakes made by the Attorney General’s Registry is shocking."

Today a US District Court ruled in favor of Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s lawsuit against California Attorney General Kamala Harris, ruling that her demands for the Foundation to hand over its list of members and supporters is unconstitutional.

AFP Foundation Chief Executive Officer Luke Hilgemann made the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is an important victory for free speech and for everyone who believes in the importance of the First Amendment. Donors to organizations, regardless of their views on public policy matters, should be free to support causes they believe in without fear of retaliation, harassment, or intimidation by powerful government figures. The Court’s ruling confirms what we have known all along – that AG Kamala Harris has no right to police the beliefs of individual Americans, or causes they choose to support.

"AG Harris’s claims that she is committed to free speech and individual privacy are misleading and disingenuous. Judge Real addressed that directly, writing in his ruling that, 'while human error can sometimes be unavoidable, the amount of careless mistakes made by the Attorney General’s Registry is shocking.'

“As free speech is the right of every American, this ruling is a victory for all which transcends ideology and partisanship. We are pleased that the Court ruled against the overreach by AG Harris, and in favor of protections that were codified by the US Constitution and confirmed by the Supreme Court.”

Background:
Excerpts from United States District Court Central District of California ruling in Case No CV 14-9448-R: Americans for Prosperity Foundation V. Kamala Harris.
The full ruling can be found here:

The Court stated that there was not "a single, concrete instance in which pre-investigation collection of a Schedule B did anything to advance the AG’s investigative, regulatory, or enforcement efforts.”

AFP Foundation proved that disclosing Schedule B would threaten its First Amendment rights. The ruling stated that, “the Court heard ample evidence establishing that AFP, its employees, supporters and donors face public threats, harassment, intimidation, and retaliation”

“this Court is not prepared to wait until an AFP opponent carries out one of the numerous death threats made against its members."

The Court further ruled that the AG's office had "systematically failed to maintain the confidentiality of Schedule B forms,” and stated that “while human error can sometimes be unavoidable, the amount of careless mistakes made by the Attorney General’s Registry is shocking.”

Finally, the Court found that "AFP has suffered irreparable harm" because "the AG’s requirement that AFP submit its Schedule B chills the exercise of its donor’s First Amendment freedoms to speak anonymously and to engage in expressive association.”

“once AFP’s donor information is disclosed, it cannot be clawed back… the ensuing intimidation and harassment of AFP’s donors, and resulting chilling effect on First Amendment rights, cannot be undone.”

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Levi Russell
Americans for Prosperity
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