Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-25-10

The US Supreme Court Rules on Doe v. Reed

The US Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 yesterday that signatories to statewide referendum petitions should be public information. The case, Doe v. Reed (see PDF), arose out of controversy surrounding Referendum 71 in Washington state and dealt with issues of free-speech and privacy. The decision upholds Washington's public-records law.

The decision, which was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, said, "disclosing signatures help[s] protect the integrity of petitioning by ensuring that only valid signatures are counted toward getting an issue on the ballot," according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Justice Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenting vote and wrote in his dissent that he found the public-records law unconstitutional "because there will always be a less restrictive means by which Washington can vindicate its stated interest in preserving the integrity of its referendum process," according to the Washington Post.

The case has its roots in a 2009 law established by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, called the "Everything But Marriage Act," according to CNN. This law granted same-sex couples in Washington state all the same rights as heterosexual couples, except the right to marry. In response to the law, an anti-gay marriage group called Protect Marriage Washington collected signatures to force a referendum vote on the issue. Voters ultimately approved Referendum 71, which maintained the state's law and was the first time gay rights were upheld by voters in any state in the US.

In Doe v. Reed, gay rights opponents sought to overturn Washington's public-records law to prevent names signed on the referendum petition from being released. They argued that making the signatures public information could open those individuals to harassment or retaliation, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. James Bopp, an attorney for gay rights opponents, said that opponents of same-sex marriage "have been subject to death threats, vandalism, and even the loss of their jobs" in states where names on petitions have been released, according to the Seattle Times.

In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that in specific cases, petition-signers could ask courts to withhold their names from the public if they could prove a "reasonable probability" that disclosure would subject them to harassment, according to the Washington Post. However, several concurring opinions suggested that such claims are unlikely to succeed. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance." He continued, "requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed," reported the Washington Post.

Media Resources: Doe v. Reed; Washington Post 6/25/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/19/10; CNN 6/24/10; Seattle Times 6/25/10; Salt Lake Tribune 6/25/10


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

7/31/2015 Mexican Court Sentences Five Men to 697 Years on Prison for Femicide - Last week, a Mexican court made a unanimous decision to convict five men of eleven femicides, or gender-driven killing. . . .
 
7/30/2015 Boy Scouts of America Lifts Ban on Gay Troop Leaders - The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have voted to repeal its national ban on gay and lesbian adult staff and volunteers this week. "The resolution will allow chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation," a Boy Scouts of America statement read. Just 15 years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that the BSA had the right to discriminate against gay volunteers and staff in a 5-4 decision. . . .
 
7/29/2015 An Extreme Abortion Ban is Now Law in Wisconsin - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed an extreme 20 week abortion ban into law last week. The law, which bans abortions performed past 20 weeks, has no exception whatsoever for rape, incest, or fatal fetal anomalies. . . .