Appealed from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Oct. 22, 2009)
Oral argument: Apr. 28, 2010
FIRST AMENDMENT, WASHINGTON'S PUBLIC RECORDS ACT, WASHINGTON'S REFERENDUM PROCESS, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, POLITICAL SPEECH, STRICT SCRUTINY, PUBLIC DISCLOSURE
The dispute in this case centers on Washington's Public Records Act ("PRA"), which requires state and local governments to make public the identities of referendum petition signers. Petition signers challenged the constitutionality of this disclosure, but the Ninth Circuit held that disclosure of petition signers’ identities serves an important government interest and promotes government accountability. Specifically, petitioners, John Doe #1, et al. ("Doe #1"), argue that petition signing is core political speech and, therefore, is subject to First Amendment protections. Respondents, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, et al. ("Reed"), contend that petition signing, especially the signing of referendum petitions, is not political speech. Rather, Reed asserts that signing a referendum is a legislative act and a "quintessentially public" exercise. Thus, in Doe #1 v. Reed the Supreme Court must decide 1) whether petition signers’ First Amendment rights to privacy in political speech, association, and belief requires strict scrutiny when a state compels public release of identifying information and 2) whether compelled disclosure of petition signers’ identities is narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest.