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Activist Group Loses Fight on Campaign-Finance Law

(CN) - The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would not review a challenge by opponents of physician-assisted suicide over political spending.

Human Life of Washington had filed suit over Washington state's Public Disclosure Law, which it said chilled First Amendment expression.

Hoping to defeat a 2008 ballot initiative for the practice, the group raised money to mail letters, make phone calls and broadcast radio ads. Initiative 1000 would "permit terminally ill, competent, adult Washington residents medically predicted to die within six months to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician."

Human Life said its educational campaign never got off the ground because it feared having to publicly disclose its donors, officers and other information under the disclosure provision of the state's campaign-finance laws. In the meantime, the initiative passed.

The 9th Circuit had ruled last year in favor of the various Washington state officials that the group sued, affirming a federal judge's dismissal of the challenge. It had found that the disclosure requirements "are substantially related to the government's interest in informing the electorate."

A Seattle-based panel from the appellate noted that the Supreme Courte had recently ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that the government "may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether."

The 9th Circuit also noted that "Washingtonians had a heightened interest in knowing who was trying to sway their views on the topic and how much they were willing to spend to achieve that goal."

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