In talking with several in the Seattle and national media, I have become aware that since it was announced that the US Supreme Court will hear our case in the matter of R-71, there are those who are now publishing stories that either claim or suggest that we are somehow trying to circumvent public disclosure laws and are part of a national coalition to do so.
Neither is true. We are addressing one issue and that is a freedom of speech issue.
I personally believe in full disclosure. However, we believe that just as an individual's vote should be confidential, so should their signature on a referendum or initiative, because that process is a part of the voting process.
We are not addressing any area of financial disclosure.
This story has already become a national story and it's outcome will have national impact.
Some may ask, what if we prevail, then Christians and conservatives will not have access to the names of those who sign petitions on issues we do not agree with. Homosexual activists have a record of intimidation and in some cases, harassment. This has played out in California during and following Prop. 8, in several other states that have considered defense of marriage legislation and certainly here in Washington during R-71.
We don't care to have access to the names of those who sign pro-homosexual or pro-abortion referenda or initiatives. We don't believe so-called "contacting" people because of the way they voted or because they signed a petition that provides an opportunity to vote is appropriate under any circumstances.
Apparently, the US Supreme Court feels that our case has enough merit to hear and consider.
Freedom in voting is worth the effort.
God bless you. We'll keep you posted.
Faith & Freedom
Friday January 15, 2010
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone: 812/232-2434; Fax: 812/235-3685; firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Washington Case on Release of Petition Signers
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case that asks it to decide whether the Washington Secretary of State may release the names, addresses, and other personal information of over 138,000 individuals who signed a referendum petition seeking to protect traditional marriage in Washington.
As seen in Washington, California, and across the country, when an election involves traditional marriage, the availability of personal information on the internet has led to the harassment and intimidation of those who support traditional marriage. Those supporting traditional marriage have been subject to death threats, physical violence, and property damage because of laws requiring the personal information of supporters of traditional marriage to be made available on the internet. Protect Marriage Washington, the group that asked the Court to hear this case, is seeking to prevent the release of the personal information of the individuals who signed the referendum petition to protect traditional marriage in Washington, and uphold the right of Washington citizens to speak freely without fear of harassment or intimidation.
James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for Protect Marriage Washington, stated, "We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case that seeks to protect the rights of citizens who support a traditional definition of marriage to speak freely and without fear. No citizen should ever worry that they will be threatened or injured because they have exercised their right to engage in the political process. The First Amendment protects citizens from being required to disclose their identity when they are engaged in political speech. The Supreme Court seemed to see the importance of hearing this case prior to the November 2009 elections when it stayed the release of the names at that time, and we look forward to their review of the case."
On September 10, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued an order preventing the release of the names of the petition signers. On October 15, 2009, the Ninth Circuit issued a single page order allowing the release of the names. On October 20, 2009, the Supreme Court prevented the release of the names prior until it could consider this case. These documents, as well as the petition asking the Court to hear this case, are available on the Madison Center website, http://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/, under the "Washington Referendum 71 Petition Suit" heading.
James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice with the law firm of Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.