ICNL seeks to create a legal environment that protects and strengthens nonprofits, activists, and philanthropy in the United States. We promote freedoms of association, assembly, and expression by analyzing trends in civic space, tracking state and federal laws affecting protest, and providing nonprofit organizations with information about legal compliance and risk management. The U.S. program also aims to reduce the negative impact on civil society of “foreign agent” legislation and counter-terrorism measures.
United States Program
The United States is in the midst of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, there have been numerous protests, albeit at a relatively small scale. However, an adequate set of rules to protect both the freedom of peaceful assembly and public health have yet to be developed. Read our Current Trend analysis here.
Face masks have become ubiquitous in US public life. The CDC now recommends Americans wear face masks to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and many localities are mandating wearing them for certain activities. Yet, at least 18 states and Washington DC have laws that could be used to penalize those who wear face coverings. Read our Current Trend analysis here.
Across the country, communities are gathering at rallies and marches to express concerns about pipelines’ impact on the environment, landowner rights, and indigenous land. “Critical infrastructure” laws target these kinds of gatherings. This one-page overview explains what these laws do and how they can be used to limit freedom of assembly in the US.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act has become a central policy tool to respond to foreign interference in U.S. politics. However, stepping up enforcement of FARA before reforming the act is a recipe for disaster. FARA is overbroad and has been used to target U.S. activists and nonprofits. Find out more by reading our article in Foreign Policy entitled The Foreign Agents Registration Act is Broken.
In partnership with the Council on Foundations, ICNL maintains reports on thirty-four countries to assist U.S grantmakers when they undertake equivalency determinations for foreign grantees.