Coalition Wins Challenge to Watch-List Policy

November 9, 2005 12:00 am

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The American Civil Liberties Union in partnership with 12 national non-profit organizations has successfully challenged the government requirement that charities check employees and expenditures against government watch lists before accepting donations from federal personnel in the Office of Personnel Management’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).

> Donate Online
> Mail-in a Donation

> Legal Complaint
> Plaintiffs and Statements
> Fact Sheet on Watch Lists

> Coalition Members
> CFC National List
> Why Watch Lists Don’t Work
> Summary of the USA PATRIOT Act

ACLU No-fly Lawsuit

Government Watch Lists

> Letter on CFC “Black List”
> Washington Post online chat
> Washington Post Aug. 16 editorial

“This is a major victory for non-profit organizations that refused to be subjected to vague government requirements forcing us to become law enforcement officers for the federal government,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “”We feel vindicated. List checking is not and has not been required by law.””

Romero was referring to the Office of Personnel Management’s final regulation posted in the Federal Register earlier this week, saying that it is dropping list-checking requirements. The regulation states: “”Under the final rule, effective for 2006 and subsequent campaigns, OPM does not mandate that applicants check the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List or the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL).””

The rule forced charities check staffs and budgets against several government watch lists for “terrorist activities” and to certify that they do not contribute funds to organizations on those lists.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charged that the government did not follow appropriate procedures in instituting the policy, that the policy is vague and misleading, and that it violates the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU and many of the organizations in the lawsuit withdrew from the CFC rather than accept these terms.

In response to the “black list,” the ACLU created a coalition of non-profits that oppose CFC policies. Through other litigation regarding government “watch lists,” the ACLU has determined that such lists are error-prone and fail to provide any effective recourse to individuals to correct those errors. Furthermore, the privacy and associational rights of employees are threatened when employers are forced to ask inappropriate questions.

> ACLU and Coalition Challenge Government Watch-List Policy Nov. 10
> ACLU Declines Ford and Rockefeller Grants Oct. 17
> ACLU Forms Nonprofit Coalition Aug. 12
> ACLU Rejects $500,000 From Funding Program July 31
> Ashcroft Cannot Force the ACLU to Check Employees Against a “Black List” July 31

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