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Appeals Court Strikes Down California Election Law

Evening Edition

Aired 6/18/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Appeals Court Strikes Down California Election Law


Glenn Smith, Professor of Constitutional Law, California Western School of Law

Thad Kousser, Professor Department of Political Science, UC San Diego



Chula Vista Citizen's For Jobs v. Donna Norris

Chula Vista Citizen's For Jobs v. Donna Norris

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ...

SAN FRANCISCO — A divided federal appeals court panel has overturned a California election law requiring sponsors of ballot initiatives to identify themselves on the petitions they circulate for signatures.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday on a case that originated in Chula Vista that compelling disclosure violates the First Amendment right to anonymous speech.

The appeals court cited two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that overturned Colorado's requirement that signature gatherers wear badges and an Ohio law banning anonymous campaign leaflets.

The court said anonymity protects speakers from harassment and focuses voters on the issues rather than personalities.

Judge Susan Graber dissented from the three-judge panel. Graber said requiring identification helps voters make better informed choices as they make split-second decisions on whether to sign a petition asking to qualify a measure for the ballot.

Glenn Smith, Professor of Constitutional Law, California Western School of Law said James Bopp's, an attorney for the plaintiffs, involvement in the case raises it's profile.

"People are wondering what's the bigger agenda here," Smith said.

Bopp is considered the architect behind the landmark Citizen's United ruling.


Avatar for user 'writerink'

writerink | June 17, 2014 at 7:51 a.m. ― 6 months ago

Then I won't be signing any petitions unless I'm already familiar with it. What about our rights as voters to know who is trying to get something on the ballot and whether or not we trust them to be telling us the truth?

I propose all voters tell every petition gatherer no because I don't know who is behind your measure, and push the petition backers to voluntarily make this disclosure if they want to earn your support.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 17, 2014 at 8:48 a.m. ― 6 months ago

More dirty ANONYMOUS money to buy our elections, how nice.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | June 17, 2014 at 9:18 a.m. ― 6 months ago

WI, what makes you think you will be told the truth by asking for it?

I agree. If anyone doesn't feel like looking into the proposal enough to understand how the changes will manifest then it is probably better that they do not sign a petition. I am very skeptical of any interest group asking for my support.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | June 17, 2014 at 11:27 a.m. ― 6 months ago

Good. Who cares who is behind your measure as long as you agree with it?

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