Suppose that during the civil rights movement segregationist governors ordered all state contractors to disclose their political donations in an attempt to expose civil rights supporters to harassment and retaliation. The Supreme Court would have had none of it.
In NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the court barred Alabama from forcing the NAACP to disclose its members. Those justices would have struck down a similar effort to force the release of the NAACP's financial supporters. They would have rightly viewed it as an infringement of the constitutional right to free association and free speech.
Today President Obama is ignoring the lessons of the civil rights era he claims to revere. According to a draft executive order leaked last week, Mr. Obama plans to require any company seeking a federal contract to disclose its executives' political contributions over $5,000—not just to candidates, but to any group that might make "independent expenditure" or "electioneering communication" advertisements.
If a small businesswoman wants to sell paper clips to the Defense Department, Mr. Obama would force her to reveal contributions to groups such as Planned Parenthood or the National Rifle Association. These donations are obviously irrelevant to whether she made the most reliable bid at the lowest price. The only purpose of the executive order is to dangle the specter of retaliation (by losing her contracts) and harassment (from political opponents).
This order represents the latest salvo in the Obama administration's war on the First Amendment rights of its political opponents.