Ninth Circuit suspends disclosure order on Prop 8 backers
SAN FRANCISCO, California: California's Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals has suspended an order written by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. The suspended order of Judge Walker would have forced the campaign in favor of Proposition 8 to turn over internal campaign strategy documents to the court.
A 3-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit said in its initial ruling that Prop 8 backers were likely to win their case against disclosure, because, according to the panel, their argument that Walker's order violates their constitutional rights is likely to prevail. In their decision, the panel wrote, "The freedom to associate with others for the common advancement of political beliefs and ideas lies at the heart of the 1st Amendment."
Andrew Pugno said the court's order was "very encouraging. Free speech requires protection for citizens to engage in campaigns, and that is all we are asking for." Pugno is the attorney for the "Yes on Prop 8" plaintiffs in the case.
The documents were sought by the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 8. Those plaintiffs are trying to establish that Prop 8 violates core federal constitutional protections. One of their lines of argument is that the backers of Prop 8 consciously wanted to suppress gay civil rights. In order to establish that conclusion, those plaintiffs wished to have access to internal campaign strategy documents of Prop 8 backers to see if any language in those documents would have tended to prove their case about what motivated Prop 8 supporters by revealing a "discriminatory animus."
Hearings on the federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 8 begin on January 11, 2010 in San Francisco.