University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Doe v. Reed FA-WA-0001
Docket / Court 3:09-cv-5456 ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
On July 28, 2009, plaintiffs, two anonymous individuals who signed a voting petition and the group that organized the petition drive, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the State of Washington under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiffs, represented by ... read more >
On July 28, 2009, plaintiffs, two anonymous individuals who signed a voting petition and the group that organized the petition drive, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the State of Washington under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, challenged the constitutionality of the state's Public Records Act as applied to the referendum process, claiming violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They sought declaratory relief and an injunction against defendants from making referendum petitions available to the public.

Specifically, the petition at issue was organized by opponents to a law signed by the governor of Washington that extended the rights and privileges of gay and lesbian domestic partners. Washington law permits the public to petition for a review of new laws in a referendum by collecting the signatures of 4% of the voters for governor in the previous election. Opponents of the new law organized a campaign entitled "Protect Marriage Washington" and turned in a petition containing 138,500 signatures. Various groups immediately filed requests under the Washington Public Records Act seeking the names and contact information of those who had signed the petition. The plaintiffs in this case were two anonymous individuals who signed the petition and the group that organized the petition drive. Their complaint contained two counts. The first was a facial challenge to the Public Records Act as applied to referendums in general. It claimed that the First Amendment protects the names and contact information of those signing referendum petitions from being disclosed to the public. The second count was an as applied challenge to the constitutionality of the Public Records Act in this particular referendum. It claimed that releasing the names of petition signers in this instance will lead to threats and harassment.

On September 10, 2009, District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction finding that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of the first count. The court did not reach the merits of the as applied challenge. The State appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On October 22, 2009, a three judge panel (Judges Tashima, Pregerson, and Smith) overruled the district court. 586 F.3d 671 (2012). The panel reasoned that the district court had erred in applying strict scrutiny since even assuming petition signing is political speech, it is neither private nor anonymous. The circuit court held that the government had a valid interest in both promoting transparency and accountability and in informing voters of who was putting the measure on the ballot. Plaintiffs appealed to the United States Supreme Court which granted certiorari.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit on June 24, 2010 in an 8-1 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts. 130 S.Ct. 2811 (2010). Justice Thomas was the lone dissenter. Justices Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Stevens, and Scalia each filed concurring opinions. The overall holding was that the state's interest in preventing fraud sufficed to overcome the facial challenge to the Public Records Act as applied to referendums. The Supreme Court then remanded the case for litigation on the merits of the as applied challenge to the Public Records Act in this particular referendum.

On October 17, 2011, the District Court ordered summary judgment for the State on the as applied challenge. 823 F.Supp.2d 1195 (2011). The district court found the plaintiffs evidence of potential harassment insufficient to grant an as applied exemption. And on November 8, 2011, the district court denied plaintiffs' motion for a stay pending appeal. On November 21, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States also denied plaintiffs' request for a stay pending appeal, with Justice Alito filing a short dissent. 132 S.Ct. 449 (2011). The signed petitions therefore became publicly available. On October 23, 2012, the Ninth Circuit reviewed the district court's grant of summary judgment and dismissed the case as moot because the requested relief of preventing dissemination of the petitions could not be effectively realized. 697 F.3d 1235 (2012).

Joshua Arocho - 06/19/2012
Richard Jolly - 09/27/2014


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Records Disclosure
Voting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Washington State
Plaintiff Description A Washington State Political Committee and several anonymous petition signers.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
3:09−cv−05456 (W.D. Wash.) 11/15/2012
FA-WA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 07/28/2009
FA-WA-0001-0024.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER 07/29/2009 (2009 WL 2392155) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER AMENDING AND EXTENDING THE COURT'S TRO 09/03/2009 (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION 09/10/2009 (661 F.Supp.2d 1194) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Reversing the district court) 10/22/2009 (586 F.3d 671)
FA-WA-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Petition for Writ of Certiorari 11/06/2009
FA-WA-0001-0019.pdf | External Link | Detail
Supreme Court of the United States Opinion (Affirming the Ninth Circuit) 06/24/2010 (130 S.Ct. 2811)
FA-WA-0001-0025.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration 10/05/2010 (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0026.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order and Granting Intervenor Washington Families Standing Together's Motion to Seal 10/06/2010 (2010 WL 3947501) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0027.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/01/2010
FA-WA-0001-0028.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Intervenor Washington Families Standing Together's Motion for Reconsideration or Clarification 12/07/2010 (2010 WL 5067975) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0029.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Order Granting Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendants and Intervenors and Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment 10/17/2011 (823 F.Supp.2d 1195) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0032.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal 11/08/2011 (2011 WL 5403218) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0034.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Supreme Court on Application for Injunction [Alito, J. Dissenting] 11/21/2011 (132 S.Ct. 449 / 181 L.Ed.2d 447)
FA-WA-0001-0035.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Dismissing Case as Moot] 10/23/2012 (697 F.3d 1235)
FA-WA-0001-0037.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (Third Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025 | FA-WA-0001-0035
Breyer, Stephen Gerald (First Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (Ninth Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Pregerson, Harry (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
FA-WA-0001-0004 | FA-WA-0001-0037
Roberts, John Glover Jr. (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Scalia, Antonin (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Settle, Benjamin Hale (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0001-0001 | FA-WA-0001-0002 | FA-WA-0001-0003 | FA-WA-0001-0026 | FA-WA-0001-0027 | FA-WA-0001-0029 | FA-WA-0001-0032 | FA-WA-0001-0034 | FA-WA-0001-9000
Smith, Norman Randy (Ninth Circuit)
FA-WA-0001-0004 | FA-WA-0001-0037
Sotomayor, Sonia (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y., SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Stevens, John Paul (Seventh Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Tashima, Atsushi Wallace (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
FA-WA-0001-0004 | FA-WA-0001-0037
Thomas, Clarence (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
FA-WA-0001-0025
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bieniek, Scott F (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-0019 | FA-WA-0001-0024 | FA-WA-0001-9000
Bopp, James Jr. (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-0004 | FA-WA-0001-0019 | FA-WA-0001-0024 | FA-WA-0001-9000
Coleson, Richard E. (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-0019
Haynie, Jared M. (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Johnson, Noel H. (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-9000
La Rue, Joseph E. (Arizona)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Phillips, Kaylan L. (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Pidgeon, Stephen Walter (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-0024 | FA-WA-0001-9000
Troupis, Sarah E (Indiana)
FA-WA-0001-0019 | FA-WA-0001-0024 | FA-WA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Beane, Amanda J. (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-0004
Clark, William G. (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Collins, William B. (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-0004 | FA-WA-0001-9000
Egeler, Anne Elizabeth (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Geck, Jay Douglas (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
McKenna, Robert M. (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-0004
Pharris, James Kendrick (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Barnes, Rhonda L. (Arizona)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Dixson, Steven Joseph (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Hamilton, Kevin J. (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
McBrayer, Ryan (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Stafford, William B (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Swinton, Duane M (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-9000
Weatherhead, Leslie R (Washington)
FA-WA-0001-0004 | FA-WA-0001-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -