Voters long ago settled the debate over Referendum 71, the law. Now the nation's highest court will decide Referendum 71, the test case.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the question of whether disclosing the names of people who signed petitions to qualify R-71 for the ballot is a violation of their political speech rights.
On one side is Washington's Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is arguing for disclosure and for whom the case could make or break his expected bid for governor.
On the other side is a formidable foe, James Bopp Jr., an Indiana lawyer on a mission to dismantle the country's campaign-finance laws who can spot an opportunity to further his cause half a country away.
May McKenna and Washington prevail. The case — the first time the Supreme Court has weighed a state's public disclosure laws — is a frontal assault on open government in Washington and many other states.
Bopp won a significant victory earlier this year in another Supreme Court case that resulted in the dismantling of campaign finance limits on corporations.
Now he's hoping a win against Washington will advance his goal of allowing "Americans to participate in politics without government trampling all over them."
Bopp and his client, Protect Marriage Washington, have it wrong. Public disclosure — and campaign finance laws, for that matter — aren't about government running roughshod over average citizens.
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