by David Ammons | October 16th, 2009
(UPDATE: This blog was updated 10-16-09 at 4:58 p.m.)
Although the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given the green light for releasing Referendum 71 petition sheets under terms of the state’s Public Records Act, it’s not quite that simple. Both state and federal courts are still involved and it will be at least a few more days until we know if the petitions can be released.
The Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the Secretary of State, says:
1. The “John Does” and Protect Marriage Washington have asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision to overturn U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle’s decision last month to block release of the petitions. Protect Marriage Washington gained a ballot spot for R-71, which asks voters to either approve or reject the state’s new domestic-partnership legislation. Reconsideration, or a hearing by the full circuit bench, is seldom granted.
2. Protect Marriage Washington plans to ask Justice Anthony Kennedy to delay the effect of the 9th Circuit ruling while they seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
[UPDATE 10-16-09 4:58 pm] 3. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks has scheduled a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on the state’s request to allow release of R-71 petitions, given the 9th Circuit’s ruling. He asked both sides to brief the question of why he should act before receiving the full 9th Circuit’s opinion, and to address why he should treat the R-71 question separately from the 11 other initiative petitions that he is being asked to block by initiative activist Tim Eyman. Earlier this week, Hicks issued a blanket order prohibiting the state from releasing any petitions, including the ones cited by Eyman as well as R-71. The 9th Circuit’s three-judge panel has reversed a lower court order specifically dealing with R-71, authorizing release of the petitions. The judges said they would release their full opinion soon.