OLYMPIA–Attorney General Rob McKenna today issued the following statement on the US Supreme Court’s decision to hear Doe v. Reed, a case involving the release of Referendum 71 petitions containing the names and addresses of those who signed the measure.
“This case involves a direct attack on public disclosure and transparency in elections. It affects not only all Washington state initiatives and referenda but also has major ramifications for every state with an initiative and referenda process and similar laws regarding public disclosure.
Although the sponsors of Ref. 71 claim this case is about potential harassment and intimidation, the federal district court which blocked release of petition signers’ names did not address that claim.
Instead, the legal issue in the case before the US Supreme Court is whether or not initiative and referendum signatures, gathered through a public process, should be considered anonymous political speech that is protected from public scrutiny.
We look forward to the opportunity to defend transparency in the initiative and referendum process both for the people of our state and for all people in states that offer the right to initiative and referendum.”
The petitioners must file their opening briefs by Feb. 25, 2010, and the state’s response is due March 25, 2010. Oral arguments are expected in April 2010.
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