Supreme Court of the United States favours openness over privacy in gay rights referendum matter

This is a short note on last Thursday’s Supreme Court of the United States decision in Doe v. Reed.

An 8-1 majority held that, as a general matter, the First Amendment does not grant signatories to state referendum petitions a right to remain anonymous that prevails over state open records laws. In the five separate concurring opinions the justices expressed a range of views on how the First Amendment ought to apply to a specific claim to anonymity, from the privacy-protective opinion of Justice Alito to the very pro-openness opinion of Justice Scalia. Justice Thomas dissented on his own, arguing that compelled disclosure of signed referendum and initiative petitions would impose a significant chilling effect on participation and that procedural integrity can generally be assured through less restrictive means than exposing petitioners’ identities.

For full commentary, see the ScotusWiki entry here.

[Qualification. I practice law in Ontario, Canada. This is a comment and not a legal opinion and I am not holding myself out as qualified to practice in matters related to American law.]

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