The Buckeye Institute Celebrates Court Wins Protecting First Amendment Rights & Taxpayers

Jul 01, 2021

Columbus, OH – The Buckeye Institute’s position prevailed in two significant court cases, one that protects the privacy and First Amendment rights of individuals who donate to charities and other nonprofit organizations, and another that protects taxpayers and the principle of federalism.

In Ohio v. Yellen, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio blocked the Biden Administration’s tax mandate that prohibited states accepting federal COVID relief funds from enacting tax cuts. The decision agrees with The Buckeye Institute’s two briefs (here and here) in the case which argue that the tax mandate is fundamentally unclear and therefore unenforceable and that the treasury secretary cannot fix Congress’s error through regulatory action. The Buckeye Institute’s counsel in this litigation provided the following comments:

“Today’s decision is a victory for federalism and democratic accountability. The idea that the federal government could block states from cutting taxes was always a stretch. The tax mandate is even more problematic, because of its fundamental vagueness on what exactly states are prohibited from doing, which leaves questions of core state power to the whim of federal officials,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “The Buckeye Institute has argued as much from day one, and Judge Cole’s scholarly decision vindicates Buckeye’s approach, Ohio’s wisdom in bringing this challenge, and the right of Ohioans to set their own tax policy free of federal interference.”  
“If Congress is going to leverage spending to direct state policy, it has to make the terms of the deal crystal clear. The tax mandate is anything but clear, and that’s what dooms it,” said Andrew M. Grossman, partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP. “Today’s decision blocking the tax mandate is a straightforward application of the Supreme Court’s precedent, and it should serve as a model for the other courts considering similar challenges.”

In Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta and Thomas More Society v. Bonta, the U.S. Supreme Court—as The Buckeye Institute argued it should in its amicus brief—stuck down California’s unlawful collection of the private information of individuals who donate to charities and other nonprofit organizations.

“The Buckeye Institute has fiercely opposed the forced disclosure of people’s names, addresses, and the charities they support. Forcing Americans to disclose their social and political affiliations is clearly unconstitutional, and the government should not be warehousing private information about the causes and organizations Americans support,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “Today’s ruling will prohibit the government from requiring nonprofits to disclose donors’ personal information that, if disclosed, could subject them to threats and harassment.”  

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