worst case

Why You Should Be Worried The Supreme Court Will Protect WA’s Referendum 71’s Supporters


With the U.S. Supreme Court last month accepting the challenge seeking to protect the names of petitions that helped put Referendum 71 on the ballot, the paperwork is starting to stream in. And from supporters of the anti-gay measure comes the argument that releasing the names of 71’s supporters, as required under existing state election law, would put average Johns and Janes in harm’s way. We’re worried the justices will agree.

On November 3, Washington State voters rejected Ref 71, the ballot measure that would’ve stripped away the state’s “everything but marriage” law. In order to get Ref 71 in front of voters, Protect Marriage Washington collected 138,000 signatures. Naturally, gay rights activists want to know who those names are; the website WhoSigned.org promised to publish them online. So Project Marriage Washington took the matter to court, and the Supremes accepted. Nevermind that both Secretary of State Sam Reed and state Attorney General Rob McKenna said the names must be released, according to that silly state law thing.

Attorney James Bopp Jr., representing the plaintiffs in John Doe #1 v. Reed, tells the court, “There are two great enemies of citizen participation in our Republic, corruption and intimidation in elections. Much attention has been paid to preventing corruption, but this case is about protecting the people from intimidation while engaging in core political speech.”

We fear the Supreme Court will think so too.

Two recent decisions from the court have shown the majority of justices are less interested in transparency and letting average civilians participate in democracy than they are about protecting institutions. First, the Supreme Court banned video feeds of Perry, the federal Prop 8 trial, under the guise of protecting status quo, rather than letting Americans actually witness justice in action. Second, the justices ruled to give corporations the same status as people when it comes to campaign finance laws, ruling the First Amendment protections of huge firms is just are important as the rights of a single soul when it comes to supporting people running for elected office.

Both moves were less about promoting open democracy than letting the system of government this country relies on become more muddled in confusion and closed doors.

And if the Supreme Court follows this pattern, you can expect it will permit the supporters of Ref 71 stay in the shadows, and allowed to infringe on the rights of others anonymously.

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  • Daniel

    What about the right of the average person to make certain their name was not added to a petition without their consent? That is the biggest question, especially when signature gatherers are paid for results in getting names on petitions. They better not be blocking the average American from making certain their name isn’t being used against their will. Considering how much identity theft there is in the USA there had better be a transparent system; otherwise the results of such measures will always be in doubt undermining the rule of law even more.

  • Daniel

    Also, remember the anti-gay forces have already readily admitted to flat out using lies and distortion to get anti-gay measures passed. They have demonstrated systemic corruption. If the Supreme Court cloaks their actions from scrutiny, the public will have no reason to believe the entire process isn’t simply corrupt and the court too biased to be followed anymore; after all, only the most corrupt governments on Earth undercut transparency to that degree.

  • Keith Kimmel

    “What about the right of the average person to make certain their name was not added to a petition without their consent?”

    There is no such right. And if this was done, the entity doing the misdeed will likely only be caught if someone sees their name attached to something they didn’t sign and as a result calls them on it. Its likely that outside of that scenario, no one would ever know.

  • Joey

    ‘Tis the bullshit that is our current SCOTUS.. ’bout time we had a sassy liberal bitch (M or F) in there!

Comments are closed.