(CN) – In the “interest of preserving the integrity of the electoral process,” names on a petition to repeal Washington state’s gay rights law cannot be kept private, the Supreme Court ruled. The high court ruled against Protect Marriage Washington, which collected signatures in its bid to repeal the state’s 2009 law that expanded the rights of same-sex partners.
Several groups sought release of the names to post on various websites, but signers wanted to keep their names secret amid worries of intimidation. They also claimed that releasing their names was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The 9th Circuit refused to keep the names secret, and the high court agreed, saying disclosing the names on a petition for a public referendum does not violate the First Amendment.
“Public disclosure … 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,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “Public disclosure also promotes transparency and accountability in the electoral process to an extent other measures cannot.
“In light of the foregoing,we reject plaintiffs’ argument and conclude that public disclosure of referendum petitions in general is substantially related to the important interest of preserving the integrity of the electoral process.”