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Supreme Court considers release of names on same-sex marriage petition

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; merit briefs] Wednesday in Doe #1 v. Reed [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report] on whether the First Amendment allows a state to compel the release of identity information about petition signers. The case arose over an order to publish the names of those who signed a Washington state petition to overturn a state law [JURIST report] giving same-sex partners the same rights as married partners. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that the names should be released, but the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay [JURIST report] in October. Counsel for the petitioners argued that, "[n]o person should suffer harassment for participating in our political system, and the First Amendment protects citizens from intimidation resulting from compelled disclosure of their identity and beliefs and their private associations." Counsel for the state of Washington argued that the names can be made public. The court appeared skeptical of petitioners' arguments, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying "[d]emocracy requires a certain amount of civic courage."

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