AG McKenna, Uphold Washington Citizens ‘Right To Anonymous Speech’

by lewwaters

As previously covered on Clark County Conservative, the case to release all of the names, addresses and signatures of those who signed the petition to place R-71, a citizen initiated resolution to place the bill SB 5688, enhancements to domestic partnerships, on the ballot has made it to the United States Supreme Court.

See Supreme Court Will Hear R-71 Petition Case and Columbian Urges Supreme Court to Listen to AG McKenna on R-71 Signers.

Given recent events spurred by Democrats in our legislature and Governor Gregoire not only supporting, but signing those measures into law, Attorney General McKenna should immediately withdraw any challenge and keep petition signatures hidden.

I am making this call due in part to the efforts of Democrats to write into law SB 6754, a law that would make signatures of those who sign citizen petitions part of the public record.

Republican State Senator Don Benton, who recently announced his intent to run against Senator Patty Murray for the U.S. Senate, spoke in opposition to SB 6754 saying,

“The majority voted the other night to not publish the votes legislators take in the voter’s pamphlet, which was wrong. Now they want to publicize the names of citizens who sign an initiative. This is clearly an attempt to intimidate citizens to keep them from exercising their constitutional rights.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke similar words in a partial dissenting opinion when the Supreme Court struck down some provisions of the campaign finance law.

Justice Thomas said,

“Political speech is entitled to robust protection under the First Amendment…. Congress may not abridge the ‘right to anonymous speech’ based on the ‘simple interest in providing voters with additional relevant information’.”

Justice Thomas, after listing several instances of how activist in opposition to California’s Proposition 8 used such information obtained from their public records to harass, intimidate and threaten supporters of Prop 8 continued,

“The success of such intimidation tactics has apparently spawned a cottage industry that uses forcibly disclosed donor information to pre-empt citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights,” adding, “These instances of retaliation sufficiently demonstrate why this Court should invalidate mandatory disclosure and reporting requirements.”

SB 6754 passed the Senate and remains in the House.

The other reason I make this call for AG McKenna to withdraw the state’s challenge to the R-71 case from before the Supreme Court and concede to Justice Thomas’s words is Democrat’s passage and Governor Gregoire signing into law the suspension of I-960, a citizen initiative that placed restrictions on raising taxes requiring a 2/3 majority vote for such increases and for Governor Gregoire not vetoing the very portion Senator Benton mentioned above, keeping legislators names out of the voters guide that voted to increase such taxes.

SB 6130 was signed into law by Gregoire as passed, in spite of Republicans efforts to preserve our “right to know.”

Senator Benton hand delivered a letter to the governor from Republicans that said in part,

“If you cannot veto all of ESSB 6130, I respectfully request that you veto section three of the bill. In doing so you would preserve the peoples right to an advisory vote on tax increases passed by the Legislature. I believe that the citizens have a right to know about legislative actions that increase taxes and that we would do well to listen to their response in the form of an advisory vote.”

He reminded the governor,

“People have the right to know how legislators vote. That’s why they approved Initiative 960 in the first place – they want sunshine on their government.”

His plea fell on deaf ears.

In an election year Democrats are on shaky ground nationwide, voters are being assaulted with the prospect of state sanctioned intimidation tactics should they support a citizen initiative some activist group dislikes by our names, addresses and signatures being made public.

At the same time, Democrat officials have chosen to keep their names private should they vote to further plunge the state into bankruptcy by voting to increase taxes during such dire economic times we face currently, 14.3% unemployment in Clark County alone.

This flies in the face of a free and open society and is something I’d imagine hearing in such countries as Venezuela or Cuba, not America or Washington State.

Senator Benton said in opposition to SB 6754,

“What we are witnessing are actions to destroy democracy and our constitution. When you stomp on the will of the people by acting in the dark of the night to restrict their rights just because you don’t agree with their decisions, what else can it be called but an all-out assault on the people’s right to determine how they are governed?”

Mr. McKenna, in light of the actions of our legislators, don’t citizens also have a ‘right to anonymous speech’ if legislators seize for themselves a right to anonymity for votes that carry the potential of harming citizens?

I urge you to petition the Supreme Court to uphold our ‘right to anonymous speech.’

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