WA Secretary of State Blogs
From Our Corner

Court to decide Jan. 15 whether to take R-71 case

by Brian Zylstra | December 29th, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it will decide on January 15, 2010, whether to accept or reject the judgeappeal of last fall’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld Washington State’s practice of treating ballot measure petitions as releasable public records.

The high court will meet on the 15th to review several cases, voting on each whether to accept or reject. The court likely will announce later that day or the following Monday if it will take the R-71 petition case. If the court declines to take the case, the 9th Circuit Court’s decision will stand. If the court accepts the case, it will likely be argued in April, with a decision to be handed down by the end of June. There also is a state court injunction entered by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks that also prevents the release of the R-71 petitions. The case in front of Judge Hicks is stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s action.

Protect Marriage Washington, which used Referendum 71 to seek a public vote on the state’s “everything but marriage”  domestic partnership law, filed a lawsuit last summer with the U.S. District Court in Tacoma to block release of the R-71 petitions. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled to block the petitions’ release, but the 9th Circuit later overturned that decision and unanimously held that the state’s policy of public release does not violate First Amendment free speech. Protect Marriage Washington quickly asked the high court to review the case.

The state Elections Division, backed by the Attorney General, says the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act requires release of all public records that are not exempt from disclosure.

Early in December, Deputy Solicitor General William Collins of the State Attorney General’s Office urged the Supreme Court to not take the case, and to allow the 9th Circuit decision to stand. Collins said several states allow release, and that the First Amendment challenge is only now arising, indicating that there is no important national question involved.

Leave a Reply

 

About this Blog

The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services. This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Kim Wyman and her staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

On the Web

Comments Disclaimer

The comments and opinions expressed by users of this blog are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Secretary of State’s Office or its employees. The agency screens all comments in accordance with the Secretary of State’s blog use policy, and only those that comply with that policy will be approved and posted. Outside comments will not be edited by the agency.

Your Corner of Washington

Older Posts

Blogroll

Blog Contributors

Recent Topics