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First Amendment Challenge to the Washington Public Records Act Rejected

By FindLaw Staff on June 24, 2010 10:42 AM

Doe v. Reed, No. 09-559, involved a First Amendment challenge to the Washington Public Records Act based on its provision permitting the disclosure of referendum petition signers' names and addresses.  The Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit's reversal of the district court's preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiffs, holding that disclosure of referendum petitions does not as a general matter violate the First Amendment.

As the Court wrote:  "The State of Washington allows its citizens to challenge state laws by referendum. Roughly four percent of Washington voters must sign a petition to place such a referendum on the ballot. That petition, which by law must include the names and addresses of the signers, is then submitted to the government for verification and canvassing, to ensure that only lawful signatures are counted. The Washington Public Records Act (PRA) authorizes private parties to obtain copies of government documents, and the State construes the PRA to cover submitted referendum petitions."

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