ACLU legal director changes tune on SCOTUS decision striking down California disclosure law

Democrats have taken a string of losses lately at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of those defeats included the high court striking down a California donor disclosure law that critics said not only violated the First Amendment, but also provided opportunities for donor harassment and violence.

According to The Daily Wire, American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) legal director, David Cole, blasted the Supreme Court in a recent tweet for striking down the California law, only to later retract the tweet after it was revealed that his employer, the ACLU, had filed an amicus brief actually supporting the invalidation of the measure.

The California law was originally challenged by the Americans For Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) and the Thomas More Law Center.

Cole’s “too hasty” tweet

Last week, Cole lambasted the high court over the ruling, which means nonprofits in California are no longer required to disclose their donors. Cole and other supporters of the law are concerned that its repeal will lead to more “dark money” in politics, which he believes can lead to “voter suppression.”

The ACLU legal director made his thoughts on the ruling well known in a tweet last week, blasting the court for failing to “rise above the partisan divide,” referencing the 6–3 ruling, in which the justices split along ideological lines.

“Well, the Court managed to rise above the partisan divide this term until the last day, when it got to voting and dark money. Today, the Court divided 6-3 along partisan lines, making it harder to prove voter suppression, and easier to hide large donations,” Cole wrote.

Though it’s unclear what transpired after his critical tweet, one can assume that the higher-ups within the ranks of the ACLU weren’t fond of Cole’s public take on the decision, given that the ACLU formally supported the court’s move. Within 24 hours of his original tweet, Cole issued an update to his thoughts on the ruling, as The Daily Wire reported.

“This was in retrospect a too hasty tweet. Yes, Court divided on partisan lines. Yes Brnovich is a disaster. But AFPF decision protects important association rights, and doesn’t question disclosure requirements in campaign finance. As I spent much of yesterday explaining,” Cole wrote.

“Facially unconstitutional”

Chief Justice John Roberts penned the decision in the ruling, and in it, he made clear that he wasn’t fond of the California law. Roberts wrote that the measure serves as nothing more than a “blanket demand” for all nonprofits in the state to disclose their donors, adding that he believes such a rule to be “facially unconstitutional.”

Liberals on the high court, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the dissenting opinion, argued that the majority ruling was supported “neither precedent nor common sense.”

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with Roberts in the ruling, but questioned whether the high court should have ruled that the California law was unconstitutional in every case, SCOTUSblog noted.

Notably, Vice President Kamala Harris defended the donor disclosure law when she was the state’s attorney general. As of this writing, she hasn’t commented on the high court’s decision to invalidate it.

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