NOM has lost again. In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the California law which requires that names of donors to public ballot measures be made public.
Sponsors of Proposition 8, the now-overturned initiative allowing only opposite-sex couples to marry in the state, complied with the disclosure law during the 2008 campaign and said some of their donors were targeted for threats and harassment. After unsuccessfully challenging the disclosure requirements, they sought to require the state to remove the names from its website and exempt them from the law in any future campaigns on related issues. But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the disclosure law has long been established as a constitutional measure to inform the public about campaign financing, and the current suit is pointless because the donors’ names are publicly known.
The dissenting judge said that the court could consider future requests for exemption from the law based on the claims of harassment made by NOM and Protect Marriage.
The Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence’s [and NOM chairman] John Eastman represented the plaintiffs. He said in an interview on Tuesday that he was actually encouraged by the ruling because it did not deny the groups’ claims on their merits. That bodes well for the groups’ challenges to similar disclosure rules in other jurisdictions, Eastman added. “We’ve got people that have been shot at,” he said. “We easily meet the Supreme Court’s standard for exemption from disclosure laws, and this court seems to recognize that.” Eastman cited the majority’s finding that the case might have ended differently had the plaintiffs appealed the denial of a preliminary injunction in 2009 – before the challenged information was so widely disseminated. “I think the opinion strongly suggest that we would have prevailed on such an effort,” Eastman said, adding that he may use the ruling in potential future challenges to gay-marriage ballot initiatives in “half a dozen other states.”
(Tipped by JMG reader Steve)