A Matter Of Opinion

THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 2010, 9:39 A.M.

Supremes say no hiding names on petitions

Court rules 8-1 against those seeking to keep their names from public view. The name of the lone dissenter was withheld. Just kidding. It was Clarence Thomas.

Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, said the Protect Marriage Act folks can try for an exemption at the lower court level.

The course of this litigation, however, has framed thelegal question before us more broadly. The issue at this stage of the case is not whether disclosure of this particu-lar petition would violate the First Amendment, butwhether disclosure of referendum petitions in generalwould do so. We conclude that such disclosure does not as a general matter violate the First Amendment, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals. We leave it to the lower courts to consider in the first instance the signers’ more focused claim concerning disclosure ofthe information on this particular petition, which is pend-ing before the District Court.

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Gary Crooks
Gary Crooks oversees production of the opinion pages, including writing editorials, and editing and selecting letters, columns and cartoons.

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