Resource: Doe v. Reed Background

By: Washington State Office of the Attorney General

April 28, 2010

Washington State Office of the Attorney General

On April 28, 2010, Attorney General Rob McKenna argued Doe v. Reed before the US Supreme Court, asking the Court to uphold a Ninth Circuit ruling, supporting the constitutionality of the state's public disclosure law and allowing the release of the names and addresses of petitioners who signed Referendum 71. R-71 placed the state's expanded domestic partnership law on the November 2009 ballot. Lower courts blocked the release of the signatures, ruling that the state's disclosure law violated petitioners' rights to anonymous political speech. In an 8-1 decision in early June, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s voter-approved public records law, retaining the public’s ability to obtain copies of petitions signed in favor of placing initiatives and referenda on the ballot. The court’s ruling addressed the broader claim brought forward on behalf of those who signed Ref. 71 that the state’s public records act is unconstitutional as applied to all petitions for referenda.

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Doe v. Reed