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

11/21/2014 STATEMENT: Feminist Majority Foundation Applauds President's Executive Order on Immigration - Statement from Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation president: "The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds President Obama for taking much needed executive action to help fix our broken immigration system that has for too long torn hardworking families apart. . . .
 
11/21/2014 Fifth Circuit Court Refuses to Reconsider Ruling Blocking Mississippi TRAP Law - The full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday refused to reconsider a panel decision blocking enforcement of a Mississippi law that threatened to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. In July, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. . . .
 
11/21/2014 UN Expert Calls for Action To End Violence Against Women in Afghanistan - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo returned last week from a nine-day official visit in Afghanistan with a call to the Afghan Government and the international community to continue its focus on creating sustainable solutions to reduce violence against women. This was Manjoo's third visit to Afghanistan, and the Special Rapporteur noted many positive developments since her travel to the country in 1999, during the Taliban regime, and in 2005. In particular, Manjoo cited the creation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW) by presidential decree in 2009 as "a key step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls."EVAW criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women - including rape, child and forced marriage, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced self-immolation - and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .