This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
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.