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Supreme Court halts release of petition signers in Washington state

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  1. Libel and Privacy
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the release of the names of people who petitioned to overturn a Washington…

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the release of the names of people who petitioned to overturn a Washington state law that gives benefits to same-sex couples, Scotusblog reported.

In a 8-1 vote, the court decided Washington’s secretary of state could not release the names of about 138,000 petition signatories until Protect Marriage Now, an organization opposing release, has an opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will not occur before Election Day Nov. 3.

Several advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit to uncover and publish the names of individuals who had signed petitions to overturn Washington’s domestic partnership law, signed by the governor on May 18. Protect Marriage Now argued providing the personal information would subject the ballot initiative’s supporters to harassment and criticism.

Last week, a federal appeals court reversed a district court’s temporary injunction that blocked the release of referendum signatories and said the information could be released. Protect Marriage Now asked Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to reinstate the injunction until it could ask the Supreme Court to hear its appeal.

"No citizen should ever have their personal property destroyed or receive death threats for exercising their right to engage in the political process," said James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for Protect Marriage Washington in a press release. "The Supreme Court seems to recognize the gravity of this situation and we look forward to their review of the case on appeal."

If the Supreme Court decided to hear an appeal in the case, it would not likely rule until next year.