Judge signs order blocking New Jersey donor disclosure law

March 12, 2020 GMT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge permanently halted a recent New Jersey law requiring increased political donor disclosure.

U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti granted the permanent injunction Wednesday by signing an order agreed to by the state attorney general, who was defending the law, and one of the groups suing to stop it called the Illinois Opportunity Project.

The measure required political organizations and some nonprofits to disclose all spending over $3,000, up from $1,600. It also mandated that contributors giving more than $10,000 would be disclosed.

Along with the Illinois group, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans for Prosperity, a think tank founded by the Koch brothers, also sought to put a stop to the law, which was signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in June.

The groups had argued the law runs afoul of the Constitution and could lead to a chill on First Amendment rights by deterring potential contributions to organizations.

The state had said that the measure simply aimed at uncovering who was “pulling the strings” in politics.

The judge’s order didn’t address why the state changed its position. A message was left with the attorney general’s office.

The ruling means the measure will likely not be in effect for this year’s election in New Jersey, where the General Assembly is on the ticket.