Washington signature privacy battle heads to Supreme Court
OLYMPIA, Washington: Tomorrow begins the SCOTUS hearing for Doe v. Reed - a case that questions whether public release of initiative and referendum petitions should be allowed under the state's Public Records Act. The court case initially developed prior to the November 3, 2009 primary election in Washington, specifically regarding Washington Referendum 71.
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.
- 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
- Late March 2010: 18 states announced their support for keeping citizen petitions as open records.
- April 2010: a coalition of newspapers and broadcasters urged the U.S. Supreme Court to maintain that petition signatures are part of the public record.
- United States Supreme Court
- SCOTUS hearing scheduled for R-71 signature privacy case
- 18 states announce support to keep citizen petitions as open records
- Kansas City Star, "Supreme Court to hear case on releasing referendum petition signatures," April 25, 2010
- The Daily Herald, "Washington's battle over petitioner signatures goes to Supreme Court," April 25, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "Supreme Court takes up Wash. case involving disclosure of petition signatures," April 24, 2010