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Eyman signature privacy case dismissed, R-71 challenge returns to court in 2011
OLYMPIA, Washington: Signature privacy cases that developed in 2009 are slowly coming to a close. This last week the Thurston County Superior Court dismissed a case brought by Tim Eyman and James Bopp. Earlier this year, the court dissolved an injunction on the release of the petition signatures with the exemption of Washington Referendum 71 (2009).
Eyman had filed a lawsuit to block the release of petition signatures relating to approximately 11 initiatives (including 2009's I-1033). He argued that the signers' identities were protected by the freedom of speech. In reaction to the court's dismissal of the case Eyman said, "We’ll continue to monitor the federal lawsuit and pursue other ways to counter this injustice. For 95 years in Washington state, petition signers’ personal information was protected. Let’s hope there comes a day when we can return to that common sense policy."
This summer the United States Supreme Court ruled 8-1 enforcing Washington's Public Records Act; making petition signatures public. Following the June 24, 2010 ruling, anti-gay marriage activists renewed their efforts to ban the release of R-71 petitions. According to the federal court motion, they asked for either a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order to block the release of the petitions. They cite the possibility for harassment should the signatures be released. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle announced in November 2010 that he would hear the challenge on May 31, 2011.
- Ruling releases Washington initiative petitions
- The signature privacy conundrum
- The Spokesman-Review, "Judge allows initiative signatures to be released," September 3, 2010
- Herald Net, "Suit filed to keep Eyman initiative signers' names secret," October 13, 2009
- Associated Press, "Second Wash. lawsuit over voter petitions," October 13, 2009
- Publicola, "Eyman’s Case to Shield Signatures Dismissed. Related R-71 Case Set for Trial," November 19, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's blog: From Our Corner, "R-71 petition challenge heads back to court in May," November 19, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "Eyman signature lawsuit over, trial set in another," November 19, 2010