Challenge to initiative signature policy rejected

OLYMPIA — A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals has rejected a challenge to Washington state’s policy on releasing signature petitions on initiatives and referendums.

The court’s ruling Tuesday is the latest in a long-running case over the public release of signatures submitted for 2009’s Referendum 71, which voters passed, upholding the state’s so-called “everything by marriage” expansion to the state’s domestic partnership law.

Opponents of the expansion, who had gathered the signatures to get R-71 on the ballot, had said people would be subject to harassment if the signatures were released. But the court said that the issue was moot, since the state released the signatures last year. The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling in 2010, said the policy did not infringe on First Amendment rights but said that opponents could file an “as-applied” challenge on a particular measure, which is how the case ended up back before the 9th Circuit.

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