Monday, June 28, 2010

Keep government open Supreme Court decides

A ruling from the Supreme Court on the keeping the names on a petition open to the public is one that the Responsible Community supported.

The United States Supreme Court supported the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and will allow the names of petition signers to be released to the public. “Protect Marriage Washington”, which organized a petition drive for a public vote to repeal the state’s “everything-but-marriage” gay rights law, asked the state of Washington to protect the privacy of signers of the petition. Petitions signers were concerned that they would be the target of a backlash from those that oppose the petition.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for 8 of the justices. Judge Roberts found, and the Responsible Community agrees, that it is “vitally important that states be able to ensure that signatures on referendum petitions” are authentic.

Excerpts from the Responsible Community post on May 3, 2010:

“The names should not be kept secret because people must be able to trust a citizen’s initiative. They are started by people that would like to ask the voters of a state if they think something should be changed. If enough people think the same way, the issue gets on the ballot. The people that sign the petition must be real and registered voters along with various other requirements depending on the state. If those names on the petition can’t be challenged how does anyone know they are real people?

“A similar issue to this came up in the last national election. An organization was registering people to vote. It was found, by people making challenges to the names on the list, that some were not eligible. Now the organization that did that, as well as other things, no longer exists. ACORN has closed its doors, partly because of the challenge.

“Responsible communities must operate in the open so that everyone can trust the process. Keeping names on a petition drive private only builds mistrust.”

The supreme court made the correct ruling with an 8-1 decision. This demonstrates a strong and very clear view on this issue. Open government is alive and very healthy in the United States.