17 February 2017

In the News: The Johnson Amendment

Earlier this month, the Council on Foundations released a comprehensive policy update concerning the Johnson Amendment, which is legislation named after Lyndon B. Johnson that states that 501(c)(3) organizations cannot intervene in campaigns on behalf of, or opposition to, political candidates. President Donald Trump recently spoke about wanting to overturn the law.

This practice has been in place since 1954 when the initial law was passed, but has recently come under scrutiny by both Congressional Republicans and President Trump, who would like to see the law amended or overturned. During Trump’s presidential campaign he frequently discussed his opposition to the Johnson Amendment. At the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast in February, President Trump reiterated his commitment to repealing the amendment stating, “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” Three bills have been introduced in the 115th Congress which would alter or repeal the Johnson Amendment.

The Council on Foundations’ update includes background information on the amendment, bills in the 115th Congress, potential executive actions, and details what a potential repeal could mean for the philanthropic sector. The update is a detailed resource of information on the Johnson Amendment.