WCOG goes to the Supreme Court of the United States: The Washington Coalition for Open Government and the Referendum 71 Case

Niners block further release of R-71 petitions

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary injunction barring further release of petitions on Referendum 71, the unsuccessful 2009 measure that would have repealed Washington’s domestic partnership laws.

The appellate court refused a request by Protect Marriage Washington to take up the case itself, leaving it in the hands of Tacoma-based U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle.

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State stops releasing Ref. 71 petitioner names

Pending a hearing Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Secretary of State's Office has stopped releasing Referendum 71 petition names to the public after a conservative religious group filed an emergency motion with the court.

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Ruling brings release of Ref. 71 signers' names

Even as a religious conservative group moved to stop it, the Secretary of State's Office on Monday began making public the names of 137,500 people who signed Referendum 71 petitions two years ago to bring a domestic-partnership law to a public vote.

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Doe vs Reed: The Next Chapter

Today Doe v. Reed continues. Anne Levinson shared the following summary of Doe v. Reed with me. Anne Levinson chaired the Approve 71 campaign to defeat the attempted repeal of the State’s comprehensive domestic partnership law. She was one of Washington State’s first openly LGBT public officials, serving as a judge, as chair of the State’s public utilities commission, and as legal counsel to the Mayor, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor in the City of Seattle.

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Initiative petition release green-lighted

The Office of Secretary of State has begun the process of releasing copies of petitions for about a dozen initiatives, most sponsored by initiative activist Tim Eyman.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks on Friday lifted his previous ban on releasing initiative and referendum petitions under the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act.  The Secretary of State’s public records officer, Brenda Galarza, on Tuesday began making arrangements with individuals who had requested the petitions submitted for 11 initiatives in earlier elections.

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Open Government Prevails in Supreme Court Case

The US Supreme Court announced its decision in the Referendum 71 court case on June 24, 2010, holding that disclosure of referendum petitions does not as a general matter violate the First Amendment. To read the full decision click here.

On March 25th, the Washington Coalition for Open Government filed its brief in the US Supreme Court to defend our State’s Public Records Act against an unprecedented challenge that would undermine the most fundamental element of open government: the ability of citizens and the news media to ensure that elections and use of our State’s initiative and referenda are transparent.

Oral arguments in the case were heard on April 28, 2010.

To view a transcript of the oral arguments, click here.

To view WCOG’s Brief, please click here. To view the docket page for the Referendum 71 case, click here.

To view all of the briefs filed in the Referendum 71 Supreme Court case, click here.

To view WCOG's op-ed on Doe v Reed, click here.

Help Support WCOG’s Legal Efforts – Please donate now.

WCOG has started a new “IMPACT” fund to cover the cost of this effort and other high profile legal efforts by our volunteer attorneys to protect and expand open government in Washington. We face well funded adversaries who seek to prevent disclosure and verification of those who have signed referendums in Washington State.

The IMPACT Fund will enable our volunteer lawyers to continue filing Amicus Curiae briefs in cases deemed critical to defending and expanding open government and access to public records in Washington, as well as representing the people’s right to know by intervening and acting as a party in such cases.

Please make a gift that will include your 2010 membership in the Washington Coalition for Open Government and help us meet our IMPACT Fund goal with a contribution of $500, $250 or $50 ($25 to basic membership, which includes access to our members only listserv to exchange tips and advice on open government issues; and, receive discounted or free admission for one individual to many WCOG events).

To donate to WCOG’s IMPACT Fund, click here.

Links on the Referendum 71 Case
Doe v. Reed Background
Supreme Court takes up Wash. case involving disclosure of petition signatures
(Seattle Times, 4/24/10)
Washington's battle over petitioner signatures goes to Supreme Court 
(Everett Herald, 4/25/10)
McKenna to argue that R-71 names are public (KOMO TV, 4/26/2010)
EDITORIAL: Open government, the compelling public interest 
(Seattle Times, 4/27/10 for tomorrow's print edition)
EDITORIAL: Why disclosure matters (The Everett Herald, 4/27/10)
EDITORIAL: Open government under attack in R-71 case
(The News Tribune, 4/27/10)

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