Citizens United Fails to Make Its Case For Donor Privacy

August 30, 2016, 11:32 PM UTC
New York And Massachusetts Attorney Generals Announce Lawsuit Against Volkswagen
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a press conference at the office of the New York Attorney General, July 19, 2016 in New York City.
Photograph by Drew Angerer—Getty Images

U.S. district judge Sidney H. Stein just gave New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman reason for celebration.

On Monday, Stein dismissed the lawsuit Citizens United filed to block Schneiderman from enforcing rules that would require it to disclose more information about its donors, Reuters reported. Attorneys for the conservative non-profit argued the group’s donors were protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause, and if enforced, new donor rules would “reasonably fear public backlash, financial harm, and worse.”

Judge Stein said the group’s constitutional claims would fail to hold up in a trial court, and ruled that Citizens United failed to show how disclosing names, addresses, and contributions from its biggest donor would cause harm.


She also ruled that the public’s interest granted by the federal government’s schedule B policy regarding charitable organization disclosure, which includes campaign contributions, outweighs the interest of donor privacy.

“Schedule B policy bears a substantial relation to the important governmental interests of enforcement of charitable solicitation laws and the oversight of charitable organizations for the protection of New York residents,” Stein said.

For Schneiderman, the court’s ruling is a “victory for common sense oversight.”

“New Yorkers deserve to know their donations are protected against fraud and abuse,” he told reporters, according to Reuters.

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