1974 September 10

ACLU Argues for Non-Disclosure of Political Party’s Contributor’s List


In a challenge to disclosure requirements in federal election campaign law, the ACLU filed suit on this day on behalf of the Socialist Workers Party, arguing that disclosing the names of the group’s financial contributors would violate the rights of privacy and freedom of association. The ACLU argued that the requirement would “deter and intimidate” people from associating with political groups. The case reached the Supreme Court as Brown v. Socialist Workers Party, decided on December 8, 1982. The Court upheld the Socialist Workers Party, ruling that disclosure of the names of its contributors might expose those people to threats and harassment.

The principle of non-disclosure was part of the rationale for the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, in January 2010, which allowed unlimited amounts of contributions from non-disclosed sources to be spent on political campaigns.

Learn more about the case: http://www.acluohio.org/cases/brown-v-socialist-workers-party-459-u-s-87-1982

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