Justice Scalia: ‘A certain amount of civic courage’

When the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in the case of Doe vs. Reed, challenging Washington state’s practice of considering signatures on petitions for a referendum or initiative to be public record, the justices’ questioning showed much concern about openness and transparency; you can see the transcript here (hat tip to Randy Stapilus’ Ridenbaugh Press). Here’s a comment from Justice Antonin Scalia to James Bopp Jr., who was arguing for keeping the names secret: “The fact is that running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process. You are asking us to enter into a whole new field where we have never gone before.”

This is a case in which Idaho has filed a friend-of-the-court brief backing the state of Washington, because Idaho’s laws are similar – and the state wants to keep its initiative and referendum petitions open.

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