Friday, October 2, 2009

Judge Rules Yes on Prop 8 Must Hand Over Internal Campaign Documents to Olson/Boies Legal Team

On Thursday U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the Yes on Prop 8 campaign must hand over internal records to the plaintiffs and the Olson/Boies legal team in their effort to discover the motives behind the discriminatory ballot measure before going to trial on January 11. If the plaintiffs can prove it was motivated by animus towards gays and lesbians, then the state will have no interest and the initiative may be void under the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equality.

Walker disagreed with the defendants' argument that releasing the documents violated their free speech rights and would not hinder the activities of other anti-marriage equality groups, an obvious reference by the defendants to the referendums taking place in Washington state and Maine.

"The First Amendment qualified privilege proponents seek to invoke, unlike the attorney-client privilege, for example, is not an absolute bar against disclosure," Walker declared in his order. "Rather, the First Amendment qualified privilege requires a balancing of the plaintiffs' need for the information sought against proponents' constitutional interests in claiming the privilege."

"What was decided not to be said in a political campaign may cast light on what was actually said," Walker said.

However, the judge restricted the Olson/Boies team in their search for facts to only issues and individuals, such as the Mormon and Catholic Church representatives who served on the campaign committee.

"Prop. 8 is irrational, discriminatory and unconstitutional," said Chad Griffin, Board President, American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group who initiated the lawsuit. "Judge Walker's ruling gives us the opportunity to seek evidence that will help prove that in a court of law."

Lisa Leff of the AP reports:
Christopher Dusseault, one of the lawyers for the couples, said the judge's ruling made sense since Walker has said he wants to have as many facts before him as possible when the case goes to trial on Jan. 11.

"Their argument that documents about campaign strategy and rejected campaign messages being irrelevant, simply because they weren't sent to voters at large, is an argument he rejected," he said.

An example of the kind of information the plaintiffs are seeking is discussions showing that the campaign decided against running ads stating that marriage must be reserved to a man and a woman to foster responsible parenting since that is an argument Protect Marriage's lawyers are making now to uphold Proposition 8, Dusseault said.
Walker ordered that on Friday all witness lists and supporting documentation must be turned into the court.

This is another victory for campaign disclosure. Yesterday, Maine's Ethics Commission ordered an investigation into the fund-raising practices of the National Organization for Marriage and its connection the anti-marriage equality campaign Yes on 1.


Just Walker Discover Ruling Against Yes on Prop 8

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