Main | Wednesday, December 30, 2009

SCOTUS May Hear R-71 Appeal On Release Of Petition Names

On January 15th the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if it will hear the appeal of Protect Marriage Washington over the decision to force the release of the names of those who signed Referendum 71.
The court likely will announce later that day or the following Monday if it will take the R-71 petition case. If the court declines to take the case, the 9th Circuit Court’s decision will stand. If the court accepts the case, it will likely be argued in April, with a decision to be handed down by the end of June. There also is a state court injunction entered by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks that also prevents the release of the R-71 petitions. The case in front of Judge Hicks is stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s action.

Protect Marriage Washington, which used Referendum 71 to seek a public vote on the state’s “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law, filed a lawsuit last summer with the U.S. District Court in Tacoma to block release of the R-71 petitions. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled to block the petitions’ release, but the 9th Circuit later overturned that decision and unanimously held that the state’s policy of public release does not violate First Amendment free speech. Protect Marriage Washington quickly asked the high court to review the case.
Washington's State District Attorney's office has urged SCOTUS not to hear the appeal, saying that no First Amendment issue is at stake. Protect Marriage Washington says that retaliation against those who supported the failed amendment is likely.

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