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U.S. Supreme Court to hear Referendum 71 case April 28
Posted by Janet Tu
The U.S. Supreme Court has set April 28 as the date it will hear arguments over whether those who sign petitions for ballot measures can keep their identities confidential -- a case stemming from the Referendum 71 battle last year.
The High Court had decided in January to hear the case -- referred to as Doe v. Reed.
At issue is whether signing a ballot petition is a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment. And if so, whether a portion of the state's Public Records Act violates the signers' First Amendment rights. The law subjects to public disclosure the identities of those who sign referendum or initiative petitions.
A Supreme Court decision likely will have ramifications beyond this state.
Twenty-seven states have either referendum or initiative processes, and the Internet has made it far easier to publicize the names of those who sign petitions for such ballot measures.
Referendum 71 asked voters last fall to approve or reject a recently expanded state domestic-partnership law that grants "everything but marriage" benefits to gay and lesbian couples. Voters approved the measure.
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