Court Overturns Utah Solicitation Law

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Earlier this month American Target Advertising (ATA), Manassas, VA, won a First Amendment victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit, in which the court declared certain provisions of the Utah Charitable Solicitation Act unconstitutional. ATA originally challenged the law, and its clause which said nonprofits and their consultants need to obtain permits before they mail letters to supporters in the state. It said the rule was unconstitutional and both burdened and prohibited advocacy groups and other nonprofit organizations from communicating with citizens through solicitation letters.

"The decision will impact not only direct mail agencies but the thousands of nonprofit organizations which use the mail and other means to communicate with millions of citizens," ATA said in a statement.

The 10th Circuit ruled that fundraising consultants do not have to post cash or bonds as a condition for their nonprofit organization clients to send direct mail solicitations into a state. The court also ruled that certain provisions of the Utah law were unconstitutional. In particular, it agreed with ATA that the law "confers unbridled discretion" upon the state official in her capacity to approve or deny such permits, and any such a provision "is unconstitutional on its face."

The decision is now mandatory in the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming and Oklahoma.

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