Larson v. Valente
456 U.S. 228 (1982)

  • Minnesota had a law (Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act (MCSA)) that was meant to deter fraud by making charities register before soliciting contributions.
    • They also had to file annual reports detailing their finances.
  • At first, the MCSA had an exemption for religious organizations, but that was changed so that only religious organizations that received more than 50% of their contributions from members would still remain exempt.
    • The idea behind the change was that if the majority of contributors were members, they would look out for how the money was spent. If contributors weren’t members, then the State had to step in to make sure that the money wasn’t being spent improperly.
  • Valente and other members of the Unification Church sued, claiming that the amended law was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.
    • Valente argued that this was discriminatory because it differentiated religious organizations that got contributions from members from those that got their contributions elsewhere.
  • The US Supreme Court found the MCSA to be unconstitutional.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the MCSA imposed a selective burden on certain religions.
    • The Court found that if there is a selective burden, then the law is suspect, and must therefore meet strict scrutiny review.
      • In this case, the Court did not find that the MCSA met the strict scrutiny standard because it was not narrowly tailored enough.