SCOTUS hearing scheduled for R-71 signature privacy case
OLYMPIA, Washington: The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments for the Referendum 71 signature privacy case on Wednesday, April 28, 2010. The case questions whether public release of initiative and referendum petitions should be allowed under the state's Public Records Act.
Protect Marriage Washington, a group in favor of placing the referendum on the ballot, won a ban on the disclosure of the petitions in September but lost the ban in an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, days following the Court of Appeals ruling to release the names, SCOTUS voted 8 to 1 to uphold the ban. In January 2010 the high court agreed to hear the case. According to reports, a ruling by the United States Supreme Court is expected by summertime 2010.
According to the high court, arguments should revolve around:
- Whether the First Amendment right to privacy in political speech, association, and belief requires strict scrutiny when a state compels public release of identifying information about petition signers.
- Whether compelled public disclosure of identifying information about petition signers is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, and whether Petitioners met all the elements required for a preliminary injunction.
- July 29, 2009: Temporary restraining order issued by Federal Judge Benjamin Settle to halt the public release of a list of those who signed the R-71 petition.
- August 12, 2009: The Washington Public Disclosure Commission ruled that the names of donors to Protect Marriage Washington are a matter of public record.
- September 10, 2009: Federal Judge Benjamin Settle maintained the restraining order on the signatures.
- September 18, 2009: The state appealed the judge's ruling.
- October 15, 2009: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order to reverse the decision made by U.S. District Judge Ben Settle.
- October 19, 2009: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked state officials from releasing any names on Referendum 71 petitions.
- October 20, 2009: The United States Supreme Court ruled to uphold the ban on releasing petition signatures.
- January 15, 2010: SCOTUS agrees to hear case
- Washington Referendum 71 (2009)
- United States Supreme Court
- Supreme Court agrees to hear R-71 signature privacy case
- Washington Secretary of State: From Our Corner, "R-71 petitions: Supreme Court sets April hearing," February 16, 2010
- The Spokesman Review, "Hearing set over petition signatures’ privacy," February 16, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "U.S. Supreme Court to hear Referendum 71 case April 28," February 16, 2010
- United States Supreme Court, "09-559 DOE #1 V. REED," accessed February 17, 2010 (timed out)