Guilherme sez, "June 30th is the 50th birthday of NAACP v. Alabama, a landmark case protecting the right of association. Alabama's efforts to expel the NAACP from its state included its demand of the NAACP's membership list. The Supreme Court struck down this demand, noting the importance of associational privacy for dissent: "Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs""
In commemoration of the birthday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center is hosting an essay written by Law Professor Anita Allen at the link: 'NAACP v. Alabama, Privacy and Data Protection.' Some excerpts:"
In NAACP v. Alabama, the Court affirmed that the constitutional rights
of speech and assembly include a right of private group association. The
idea that Americans are free to join private groups was not new in 1958.
However, the Court's decision to allow private groups to keep membership
information confidential was an important constitutional milestone."
Whether handwritten on lined paper or stored electronically in a
computer system, membership data is constitutionally protected from
The fact that technology has made it easier to collect, store and share data revealing individuals’ group memberships should be of no consequence. The principles of expressive private association, confidentiality and anonymity embodied in the NAACP case should have an abiding place in the jurisprudence of every enlightened democracy.
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