Judge rules petition signer names secret for now

Published June 3, 2010 11:17 am
Ethics initiative • Supreme Court will rule first in a case in Washington state.
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U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday to keep secret the names of Utah's ethics initiative petition signers.

That injunction will stay in force until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a similar case from Washington state that would set precedent for subsequent legal decisions on the matter.

"The questions to be answered in John Doe #1 v. Reed bear upon and will very likely directly control the ruling to be issued in the present case," Waddoups said in Wednesday's court document.

He said it would be "presumptuous" for the District Court to rule before the Supreme Court decision is out.

At issue in the Utah case are 77,000 names submitted to county clerks on April 15 in support of comprehensive ethics reform that Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG) had hoped to get on November's ballot.

The citizen ballot measure was hotly opposed by most of Utah's Republican-dominated Legislature and Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, successfully sponsored a law to streamline signature removal.

UEG supporters have argued petition signers would be subject to harassment, retaliation or unwanted pressure if their names became public.

The initiative organizers have since learned that their petition drive failed to clear the 95,000-signature thres- hold. The group, however, intends to continue gathering names until Aug. 12 in hopes of getting its measure on the 2012 ballot.


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