Lawson Bader on DonorsTrust and the Right to Free Association

Lawson Bader
Show Date
October 22, 2017
Amendments Constitution Supreme Court
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Related Shows

In 1956, the attorney general of Alabama tried to oust the NAACP from the state, and issued a subpoena for their donor lists. Fortunately, a unanimous Supreme Court decision protected the organization's right to keep this information private – finding that Alabama had violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote, “This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations.” Today, DonorsTrust helps philanthropists match their money to the principles of limited government, personal responsibility and free enterprise while remaining anonymous. They serve as a conduit between donors and organizations like the Cato Institute, Mercatus Center, and the American Enterprise Institute, and have attracted sharp criticism from politicians who oppose the ideas these groups promote. While the attacks are couched in terms of “transparency” and preventing “dark money” from influencing elections, this language conceals the drive to weaken a cornerstone of liberty in the U.S. – the right to privacy in one’s freely chosen associations. Lawson Bader (formerly the President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute) recently stepped up as President and CEO of DonorsTrust, where he takes the heat on behalf of this entire network of donors, which is “building a legacy of liberty.” Lawson notes that transparency is for government, whereas privacy is for citizens. He joins Bob to discuss the new threats to freedom of association, and explain the value of donor-advised funds like DonorsTrust – both to philanthropists and the causes they support. GET THE PODCAST IN ITUNES AND STITCHER