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Posts tagged: Referendum 71

Supremes: Human Life would have to reveal donors

OLYMPIA – The U.S. Supreme Court answered once and for all Tuesday whether a conservative group can hide the names of donors to a campaign against an assisted suicide initiative.

It can’t.

The court refused to hear an appeal of lower courts’ rulings against Human Life of Washington, which sought an injunction against the state’s Public Disclosure Commission for a planned 2008 campaign against assisted suicide. (Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the group refused to report donors and the PDC found it in violation of disclosure laws.)

It was the second time in eight months the nation’s highest court upheld state disclosure laws being challenged by faith-based groups. In both cases the groups were defended by an attorney who challenges election laws around the country.

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here.

Supremes schedule R-71 hearing

OLYMPIA — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 28 whether the names on ballot measure petitions are public records.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office announced this afternoon that the date has been set on a case that is getting national attention because it involves a series of First Amendment and public records issues.

The information at the heart of the case are the names and addresses on the petitions to put Referendum 71 on last fall’s ballot. After the Legslature expanded rights for same-sex couples last spring, opponents gathered signatures to let voters overturn the bill. Supporters of gay rights requested the names under the state’s public records law, but referendum sponsors objected, saying the signers could be subjected to harassment.

Although the state has previously released the names from initiative and referendum campaigns, judges have disagreed over whether the names in this case are public records. Most recently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said they are, but that ruling is on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court decides the case.

Court, Legislature both pondering initative names

OLYMPIA — The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the names of Washington voters who sign a petition to put a law on the ballot can be made public, and subject to release.

The high court could hear the case of Doe vs. Reed as early as April, taking up the fight over the names and addresses of people who signed petitions to put Referendum 71 on last year’s November ballot.

A few hours after the court announced it was adding the case to its schedule, a legislative committee considered dueling bills spawned by the dispute. One would provide an exemption to the state’s Public Records Law for the names and addresses on initiative or referendum petitions; the other would state categorically that they are public records

Rep. Sam Hunt of Olympia, chairman of the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee, said he couldn’t reschedule the bills for later hearings just because the court agreed to take up the R-71 case. He plans to talk with House leadership on whether to schedule a committee vote that could send one or both bills to the House floor.
For more on this story, Click Here to go inside the blog.

Supreme Court will take Ref. 71 signature case

OLYMPIA — The U.S. Supreme Court granted a request to review the dispute on whether the names of people who sign a petition to put a law  before voters are public, and subject to release.

The high court today granted certiorari to the case Doe v Reed, and set it for a hearing as early as April. An exact date hasn’t been set.

The case involves a fight over the names and addresses of people who signed petitions to put Referendum 71 on last year’s November ballot. The referendum, which sought to overturn expanded rights for same sex and elderly heterosexual coupes, was sponsored by people opposed to gay marriage.

Supporters of gay rights filed a public records request for the names of everyone who signed the petition, Referendum backers objected, saying they feared the signers would be harassed.

Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna have said the names of people who sign initiative or referendum petitions are public under the state’s Public Records Act. Federal and state judges have disagreed. Most recently, a divided panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled they are public records, but the release of the names has been put on hold pending the appeal to the nation’s highest court.

Meanwhile, bills being introduced at the Legislature seek to declare the  names definitely are public or are exempt from released under the public records act.

High court to look at Ref. 71 case

The U.S. Supreme Court will take a peek at whether those names on the Referendum 71 petitions are public records or private info.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office, which says they are public records, announced today the Supremes have put the Ref. 71 issue on a list of cases they’ll review on Jan. 15. This could be the next step toward a full-blown appeal of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that they’re subject to release, or the end of the line for the fight.

The high court would be expected to announce that day or soon after whether they will take up the case, Brian Zylstra, deputy communications director, said.

For background on the case, go inside the blog.

One Ref 71 impact lives on

By late last week one question surrounding Referendum 71 was settled: The measure passed and the “everything but marriage” statutes go into effect for the whole state, after it was approved handily in most Puget Sound counties and hammered pretty badly elsewhere.

That’s really just the quick question the ballot measure generated. The longer one, which would have survived regardless of the vote count, has political operatives watching closely, legal scholars salivating – and may give legislators something to do in coming years besides sweating  the state’s declining finances.

The question: Are the signatures on R-71 petitions  – or any other statewide ballot measure – public?

There’s a map for that: Ref 71 in Spokane

As of Tuesday night, here’s how the vote totals look in Spokane County for Referendum 71.

Tues. fun video: Colbert on Ref 71 signatures

Stephen Colbert takes off on the fight over releasing the names from the Referendum 71 petitions, as well as a campaign ad from the Protect Marriage folks.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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Kennedy: Hold those names

Latest in the legal battle over the names of people who signed Referendum 71 petitions: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy today blocked the release of the names which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unblocked last week.

Kennedy got a request from the group supporting the petition drive, and said the order will stay in place until he’s had a chance to review the appeal.

His decision also will stay any release of other initiative petitions, which are being fought over in state courts.

Anyone want to bet that this isn’t settled either way until after the Nov. 3 election?

9th Circ: Release the names

Washington state can release the names and addresses of people who signed the petion for Referendum 71, a ballot measure that attempts to peel back the latest changes to the state’s domestic partnership laws, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said today.

A 9th Circuit panel this morning revesed a trial court ruling that releasing the names could chill the First Amendment rights of petition signmers. But the names aren’t going to be released right now, because a separate court ruling in Thurston County has a temporary restraining order blocking that.

To read the Associated Press’s latest version, go inside the blog. We’ll try to keep it updated regularly.

Ref. 71: Back to the courts

Whether Referendum 71 goes on the November ballot may still be in doubt.

An opposition group, Washington Families Standing Together, did what a King County Superior Court judge essentially suggested it do Tuesday, filing for an injunction in Thurston County over questions about the validity of petitions.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the referendum for the ballot this week after announcing it had the required 124,000 or so signatures on petitions. But some of those petitions had not been signed in the required box by the people who collected them. The campaign manager for the petition drive signed some of them, others were blank.

Some of the signers also weren’t registered to vote until they signed the petition.

Both of these are potential problems Judge Julie Spector said yesterday. But they weren’t problems that she could rule on, because they were being raised before the referendum was certified. Once it was certified, Spector said, opponents would have to go to Thurston County Superior Court.

That’s what they did, quoting extensively from Spector’s discussion of the problems with the petitions. They challenge the validity of some 35,000 signatures; and the petition drive had only about 1,500 to spare.

Expect a quick hearing on this one. The clock is ticking toward the deadline for getting ballots printed around the state, and a statewide voters pamphlet.

Ref. 71 moves closer to the ballot

Referendum 71 should go on the November ballot. So says Secretary of State Sam Reed. So says King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector.

Reed certified the voters’ opportunity to repeal the “everything but marriage” law Wednesday. That was pretty much a given because his office previously reported it had more than enough signatures to make the ballot. It was a close one, with only about 1,400 signatures to spare, and it made the cut by having one of the lowest rejection rates in history.

Spector rejected a request from opponents of the initiative to block it from the ballot because of questions about the way the petitions were turned in. Some of the petitions did not have the validation box filled out, which is to be signed by the person collecting the signatures. Some were turned in blank, then stamped by campaign manager Lawrence Stickney, others remained blank.

Reed accepted the petitions anyway, which is standard practice for petitions. Spector said Reed has the authority to accept the petitions for verification, and his decision can’t be challenged until after the measure is certified for the ballot. Opponents have five days to take their case to Thurston County Superior Court, which is where challenges of the petition process are handled, she said.

Ref. 71: Sizing things up

Referendum 71 supporters have a new challenge. The size of the petitions they need to distribute for signatures.

The proposed ballot measure, which if passed in November would repeal aspects of domestic partnership passed this year by the Legislatulre, must contain all the sections of the law it seeks to change. That law covers 114 pages in the original bill, but has to fit on a single sheet for a referendum petition, state initiative rules say.

So supporters shrunk the type and printed it front and back on a super-sized piece of paper, which folds out like one of those maps you get from AAA that never get refolded quite right.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office released the above photo of a petition, being held by office spokesman David Ammons.

Look for the petition at a gathering place near you. For people who believe in reading anything before they sign it, be advised: bring lunch.

On listing petition names, fair is fair

A gay rights group’s plan to post the names of everyone who signs Referendum 71 petitions has some people outraged and others insisting that folks shouldn’t sign petitions unless they have the guts to defend their decision.

In other words, it’s your standard dichotomy in politics: is either assisting in a more open electoral process or engaging in a scurrilous political ploy in its fight against a ballot proposal that would overturn certain legal rights for same-sex couples.

Before deciding who’s right, we can apply a test known as “change a few details, see what you think.”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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