Updating Thursday's News Cut post about a case in Washington state that tests whether signing a political petition is protected speech (and whether, like a vote, it should be confidential): today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide the case. It's the second time this week the court has waded into a question brought about because of concerns from opponents of same-sex marriage that publicity could lead to their harassment.
The outcome of the case could affect publicity about petition-signers in the 27 states that have either an initiative or a referendum option for voters, or both. The core constitutional issues in the case are whether signing a ballot measure petition is a form of political speech, whether, if it is protected by the First Amendment, it includes a right to sign without official public disclosure, what standard is to be applied when judging regulation of such a First Amendment right, and what government interest supports disclosure rather than confidentiality for signers' identities.
But the earliest the court would hear arguments in the case is late April.