Washington Court of Appeals lifts ban on R-71 petitions
OLYMPIA, Washington: Today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order to reverse the decision made by U.S. District Judge Ben Settle. Settle ruled that releasing the names of Referendum 71 petition signers could violate their First Amendment rights. The 9th Circuit Court began listening to arguments yesterday. In response to the court ruling, state elections director Nick Handy said,"The winner here is open government."
The three-member panel consists of Judges Harry Pregerson, A. Wallace Tashima, and N. Randy Smith. Washington courts have been listening to arguments since July 2009 regarding the signature privacy of R-71 petition signers.
After listening to arguments yesterday, Judge Tashima said,"Can we take judicial notice of the fact that the plaintiffs represent people who are in the majority? This isn’t a persecuted minority." However, plaintiff attorney responded by saying that the majority cannot be determined just yet. Referendum 71 is scheduled for the November 3, 2009 ballot. "You’ve won all the elections around the country so far," responded Tashima. The judge later noted that he believes the case revolves around "politics."
- July 2009: the Protect Marriage Washington filed a request for a temporary restraining order in order to not release the names. They argued that the disclosure of donors' names might put those signers at risk of harassment.
- July 29, 2009: a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order
- 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 maintains restraining order on signatures
- September 18, 2009: state files appeal