Supreme Court Permits Disclosure of Petitioner Signatures

The Supreme Court has held in Doe v. Reed that, as a general matter, the state's interest in ensuring election integrity outweighs the First Amendment interest of petitioner signatories. Chief Justice Roberts writing for the Court, said that disclosure of signatures under a state open records law "would not violate the First Amendment with respect to referendum petitions in general." However, the Court left open the possibility that the disclosure of names for a particular referendum could violate the First Amendment. Justice Thomas, writing in dissent, said that it was not necessary for the state to publish the names of those who sign petitions to ensure valid elections. He noted techniques that could protect privacy and safeguard election integrity. In a concurrence, Justice Alito warned that the state could obtain vast powers to collect and disclose personal information about those who engage in the petition process. Justices Breyer, Scalia, Sotomayor, and Stevens also filed concurrences. EPIC submitted an amicus brief in the case, arguing that "the privacy of petitioner signatories safeguards First Amendment interests and helps to ensure meaningful participation in the political process without fear of retribution." For more information see, EPIC - Doe v. Reed.


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