Thursday, June 24, 2010

Court upholds disclosure of petition signers

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Big news here. The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 vote, has upheld a Washington decision that allowed public release of names of people who sign initiative petitions. The case was brought by anti-gay groups, who have reacted unhappily to disclosure of the names of people who signed ballot petitions for initiatives to ban same-sex marriage.

The overriding need for public dislcosure of petition signers — in this and any other petition campaign — is to guard against fraudulent signatures. A gay rights group had put on-line the names of those who signed petitions in Arkansas to prevent adoptions by gay people.

This will be welcome news to the University of Arkansas's Janine Parry, who joined a group of scholars arguing for openness.

This decision doesn't answer for all time the question of whether disclosure of names in certain cases could chill free speech. It only answered the general question of whether disclosure of petition signers generally was acceptable. Justice Clarence Thomas would have protected those who sign anti-gay petitions. Samuel Alito sounded sympathetic to them. Antonin Scalia, on the other hand, said it wasn't even a close call. Credit where due:

"I doubt whether signing a petition that has the effect of suspending a law fits within 'the freedom of speech' at all. Our Nation’s longstanding traditions of legislating and voting in public refute the claim that the First Amendment accords a right to anonymity in the performance of an act with governmental effect," Scalia wrote. He also suggested that the petition signers demanding anonymity need, in essence, to grow up.

"Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forwardto a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously...and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave," Scalia wrote.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (14)

Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

    Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

    Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • Family of girl who fell from Harrison church bus issues statement, says investigation ongoing

    The family of a 4-year-old girl from Harrison who fell from a moving church bus on April 19 issued a statement through their attorney yesterday, asking for privacy as the investigation into the incident continues. The family said the girl is still receiving medical care related to the incident — caught on a paramedic's dashboard camera — in which she opened the back door of a moving church bus and was flung to the pavement, with the bus driving away.
  • The Jack Jones, Marcel Williams execution thread

    The Arkansas Department of Correction is planning for the first double execution in the U.S. in 16 years tonight. Jack Jones, 52,  and Marcell Williams, 46, are scheduled to die by lethal injection. They would be the second and third prisoners put to death as part of a hurried schedule Governor Hutchinson set in advance of the state's supply of one of the three drugs used in the execution protocol expiring on April 30.
  • GLO suspends flights; files for bankruptcy

    Little Rock is losing its GLO Airlines flights to New Orleans, and to Destin scheduled to resume in May, as the startup company has filed for bankruptcy, Arkansas Business reports today.
  • Lee's lawyer writes about executed man's last hours

    Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.
  • Supreme Court hears arguments in case that led to stays for two Arkansas death row inmates

    The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in an appeal yesterday that asks the court to rule that indigent criminal defendants are entitled to an independent expert witness. The case, McWilliams v. Dunn, goes back to the 1984 capital murder conviction of James McWilliams, who raped and murdered a woman in Tuscaloosa, Ala., during a robbery. But the high court's decision will also directly affect the fates of Don Davis and Bruce Ward, Arkansas death row prisoners who were slated to die this month, but given a reprieve by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which issued a stay in each execution, pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in McWilliams in June.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation