Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finally a Supreme Court Decision I can Agree with

Don't you love it when an out-of-state group comes in, organizes a petition, riles of the public with advertisements meant to incite, and win at the ballot box through fear? Shouldn't we know who they are? They didn't think so, but so what.

(AP) - People who sign petitions calling for public votes on controversial subjects don't have an automatic right to hide their names, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday as it sided against Washington state voters worried about harassment because they advocated repeal of that state's gay rights law. The high court ruling (was) against Protect Marriage Washington, which organized a petition drive for a public vote to repeal the state's "everything-but-marriage" domestic partnership law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the 8-1 judgment for the court, said it is vitally important that states be able to ensure that signatures on referendum petitions are authentic. "Public disclosure thus helps ensure that the only signatures counted are those that should be, and that the only referenda placed on the ballot are those that garner enough valid signatures," Roberts said.

But Roberts also said that Protect Marriage Washington could go back to the lower courts and try to prove that the release of their names would put them in danger. One justice in the majority, Samuel Alito, seemed to suggest that such an argument
might be successful.

But Justice Antonin Scalia said there already 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." Scalia said he does not look forward to a country that "exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny or protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave," he said.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and the retiring John Paul Stevens also seemed skeptical.

The worst Supreme Court justice ever, Justice Clarence Thomas, was the only dissenter.

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