Saturday, March 27, 2010
Washington Attorney General Argues No Right to Privacy for Petition Signers
Gearing up for the April 28th hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court over the attempt to block the release of names of people who signed petitions to negate an expansion of gay rights, lawyers for Washington state filed briefs arguing that people who sign petitions have no right to privacy.
In September U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that releasing the petition names would violate the individual's constitutional right to engage in political speech anonymously. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the lower court's decision, declaring that petition signing is not an anonymous act and allowing disclosure of the signer's identities.
The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision pending its ruling.
Legal scholars anticipate the decision could have far-reaching effect on the state's initiative and referendum process as well as other open government laws, such as the disclosure of political campaign contributors.
Read more here.