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U.S. Supreme Court

Anonymous Speech Case Among Supreme Court’s Final Four Arguments

Posted Apr 27, 2010 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the right to anonymous speech in one of four cases that will be argued this week in the term’s final days of argument.

The case, Doe v. Reed, pits the right to anonymous speech against access to government, the National Law Journal reports.

Under Washington state’s public records law, the names of anyone who signs a petition for a statewide referendum must be disclosed upon request. Supporters of traditional marriage are challenging the law as an infringement of their First Amendment right to anonymity, the Seattle Times reports. They fear harassment if their identities are released because they sought a referendum to repeal a state law expanding domestic partner ballots.

James Bopp Jr., who represents the petitioners, claims the petition signatures are core political speech, and the law should be subject to strict scrutiny, the NLJ says. PrawfsBlawg calls the case “a media law professor's dream” for the issues involved. The case will be argued on Wednesday.

The NLJ summarizes the other three cases:

Rent-A-Center, West v. Jackson. At issue is whether a federal judge or an arbitrator should decide if an arbitration agreement is "unconscionable" when the parties assigned the question to the arbitrator.

Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co. The case involves the payment of attorney fees when a company violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, then corrects the violation.

Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms. The case brought by organic farmers sets the stage for the court’s first-ever ruling on genetically modified crops, according to Greenwire and the Des Moines Register. The court is considering an appeal of an injunction halting the sale of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds. Environmentalists fear the case will be used to gut remedies under National Environmental Policy Act.

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