Sunday, February 10, 2008

Court Rejects Challenge To Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act

In Free the Fathers, Inc. v. State of Tennessee, (TN Ct. App., Feb. 7, 2008), a Tennessee appellate court rejected a number of constitutional challenges to the state's Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act raised by a non-profit organization devoted to freeing Roman Catholic priests jailed in foreign countries. An enforcement action was filed against the group after it failed to apply for an exemption as a religious institution. The court rejected claims that the law acts as a prior restraint, that it vests overly broad discretion in the Secretary of State, and that the Secretary of State exceeded its statutory authority in creating an exemption process. The court also rejected 14th Amendment and commerce clause challenges to the statute, as well as a challenge under the free exercise clause of the Tennessee Constitution.