Have you heard the one about the Buckeye lawyers who fought city hall?*Jan 10, 2017
*Don't take city hall literally in this case. Your Buckeye Institute is actually taking on the entire federal government. And, unfortunately, this isn't a punch line to a bad lawyer joke either!
The Buckeye Institute Files Prominent Brief in U.S. Supreme Court to Protect First Amendment Rights--Vows to Fight Attempts to Silence Free Speech at All Costs
COLUMBUS, OHIO--On Tuesday, The Buckeye Institute filed a legal brief with the United States Supreme Court in an all-out legal battle to keep you, our dear friends/investors/supporters, off a government list.
Besides our inherent distaste for government lists on principle, the particular list at issue here violates your First Amendment rights. This list will be used to intimidate you for partnering with Buckeye and other organizations of your choosing.
Here is the backstory: the federal government is going after one of our sister think tanks--Independence Institute in Colorado--and trying to compel it to produce its donor list. Those of you who have been with Buckeye for a while know that our own response to the same inquiry by IRS agents was a pretty forceful "not one damn name" during our own politically-motivated audit 3 years ago.
We didn't give a single name from our list to the government then, and we aren't about to stand by while the government tries to force our good friends in Colorado doing solid policy work there to give in either.
In fact, The Buckeye Institute joined with State Policy Network to lead the coalition of 24 state-based policy organizations in fighting this unconstitutional effort to erode your ability to speak freely and give in privacy to the causes and organizations you believe in.
The government claims that because an ad by Independence Institute referenced specific candidates within 60 days of the election, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act requires Independence Institute to disclose its entire list of donors to the government.
After all, the government would never misuse or abuse a list of people who donate to a cause with which it disagrees, right? Unfortunately, at The Buckeye Institute we know all too well what the government can do with a list (cough, ahem, Lois Lerner, cough).
501(c)(3) organizations, like yours truly here, are limited by IRS rules and regulations from advocating for or against political candidates. However, when educating the public on good and bad policy, it is nearly impossible to do so without mentioning the names of those who make the good or bad policies into law.
The ad in question did not advocate for or against any candidates; it just referenced them by name.
Anonymity is a pillar of free speech that your Buckeye Institute will continue to fight for. Without anonymity or privacy, an oppressive majority can intimidate people and organizations into silence--a hallmark of tyranny.
At Buckeye, we will continue to do everything in our power to keep you off of a government list for exercising your God-given and constitutionally recognized right to free speech. Your support of The Buckeye Institute or any other causes you believe in is your own business, and we will not report your donation to the government. (Remember the media shock at the number of people who voted for Trump? There is a good reason we have secret ballots and don't make it public record whom you supported for president either.)
If you'd like to read our awesome brief in full, be forewarned. While our amazing attorney-in-chief and president Robert Alt swears it is a page-turner, we would strongly advise you to have some coffee first. It was written by some impressive legal minds representing you extraordinarily well at the highest court in the land, and we just want you to have the energy necessary to stick with it to the end. We aren't Alabama around here. We finish strong. Enjoy!
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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.