Supreme Court blocks disclosure in Washington

October 20, 2009   •  By Steve Hoersting
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SCOTUS Blog reports that, “[T]he Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon blocked officials in Washington State from publicly disclosing the names and addresses of individuals who signed petitions seeking a voter referendum on a new gay rights law.”

This decision may open up the possibility that disclosure in ballot campaigns is constitutionally suspect, and signal a welcome growth in Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in McIntyre, which struck down disclosure requirements for opponents to a public-school levy. Disclosure allows citizens to check the actions of our officials, to cast sunlight on the operations of government.  Where that interest is absent, disclosure is harmful, and anonymity should carry the day.  We at CCP have warned about the dangers of disclosure many times before, and have filed Supreme Court briefs in the important Citizens United and Independence Institute cases that address this issue. 

This is only more true in an internet era, where addresses and enemies lists are easily paired with the use of search engines and mapping sites as at

We hope that this development shows greater interest by the Court in the privacy rights of citizens to not be “outed” by their government for their political beliefs, and increases the likelihood that our friends at the Institute for Justice are granted certiorari on behalf of the Independence Institute on this very question.

Steve Hoersting

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