National News

Supreme Court Clears Way for NJ Attorney General to Get Donor Information From Pro-Life Centers

Trees frame the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington April 23, 2024. (Photo: OSV News/Julia Nikhinson, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal by a group of New Jersey-based pro-life pregnancy centers to block a subpoena from the state’s attorney general seeking that they disclose donor information.

In an order list issued May 13 and without any comment, the nation’s high court denied the appeal submitted by the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of First Choice Women’s Resource Centers.

The network is a Christian group that runs five pregnancy resource centers in New Jersey that offer pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, screenings, and counseling.

The group’s appeal was in response to a subpoena issued last November by New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin seeking the pregnancy centers’ records of donor lists and private correspondence to determine if they had violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

A month before issuing the subpoena, Platkin was one of 16 state attorneys general signing a letter accusing pro-life pregnancy centers in the U.S. of spreading “misinformation and harm” and using “deceptive tactics” to draw clients.

In December, the group of centers filed a complaint against Platkin saying his subpoena was too broad and was unconstitutional. They also said it violated the group’s First and 14th Amendment rights and was “selectively and unlawfully” targeting them for their pro-life views.

The group’s countersuit said the attorney general “never cited any complaint or other substantive evidence of wrongdoing to justify his demands but has launched an exploratory probe into the lawful activities, constitutionally protected speech, religious observance, constitutionally protected associations, and nonpublic internal communications and records of a nonprofit organization that holds a view with which he disagrees as a matter of public policy.”

Its appeal to block the subpoena was rejected by U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before it made its way to the Supreme Court where it was supported in a friend of the court brief by New Jersey Right to Life.

In its brief, the New Jersey pro-life group accused the New Jersey attorney general of working to discredit pregnancy resource centers and said he and other state leaders criticizing these centers “have multiple ways to advance their pro-abortion agenda. Trampling on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and religion, under the false guise of enforcing consumer fraud laws, is not one of them.”