Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Nonprofits in Constitutional Litigation

Ian-hutchinson-U8WfiRpsQ7Y-unsplashToday the Supreme Court hears arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that will consider the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that entirely bans abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy.

The case is important and momentous. Important and momentous enough that more than 140 amicus briefs were filed with the Court. And a not-insignificant percentage of those briefs were filed by tax-exempt organizations. Those amici ran a relatively broad gamut of types of tax-exempts, views on the Mississippi law, and approaches toward the law. And I'm not going to pull out every single tax-exempt, but I'm going to highlight a handful. (I didn't read every amicus brief because SCOTUSblog did it so that I didn't have to! I'm not going to link to the org's briefs, but they're all linked on the SCOTUSblog post.) (I'll highlight which of the organizations that I list aren't 501(c)(3)s; if I don't list the section an org is exempt under, it is a 501(c)(3).)

Tax-Exempts Supporting Mississippi's Law

Unsurprisingly, the National Right to Life Committee (a 501(c)(4)) and Americans United for Life support the law. So does the American College of Pediatricians. Legal organizations like Judicial Watch and the Thomas More Society support it, as well as a number of religious organizations including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Tax-Exempts Opposing Mississippi's Law

For (almost, at least) every type of organization that supports the law, though, there is a similar organization that opposes it. Advocates for Youth, an organization that champions young people's right to sexual health information and services is opposed to the law. So is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (501(c)(6)). Legal organizations including the ABA (501(c)(6)), the Constitutional Accountability Center, and the ACLU (501(c)(4)) oppose the law. And a number of religious organizations, including Catholics for Choice, are opposed to the law.


Honestly, I have no idea what the Court is going to do with this case. I'm not a Supreme Court watcher nor am I particularly talented at reading the tea leaves. But whatever ends up happening, tax-exempt organizations will have had at least some hand in shaping the decision.

Samuel D. Brunson

Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

Current Affairs, Federal – Judicial, In the News | Permalink


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