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Supreme Court to Hear Washington Ballot Signature Case

Supreme Court to Hear Washington Ballot Signature Case


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by an antigay group, which seeks to block the release of ballot initiative signatures in opposition to a Washington state domestic partnership bill.

The suit, Doe v. Reed, centers on Referendum 71, which asked Washington voters to accept or reject an "everything but marriage bill" last year.

Originally signed into law by governor Christine Gregoire, the bill was subject to a referendum after groups opposed to LGBT rights collected 138,000 signatures -- more than the required amount to qualify a ballot measure.

A majority of Washington voters approved the expanded domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples in November.

Following the referendum, Protect Marriage Washington sued to block the release of the signatures it had collected. The Washington Public Records Act treats such petition signatures as public record.

The question posed before the Court is whether the state's release of petition signers' private information restricts anonymous speech as protected by the First Amendment.

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