We all know about the Federal court case Perry v. Schwarzenegger making its way through the appeals process, the one addressing whether California’s constitution, as amended by Proposition 8, violates U.S. Constitutional protections. But there is also another Prop 8-related case, ProtectMarriage.com v. Bowen, addressing whether donors to proposition campaigns should be able to donate anonymously.
Plaintiffs argued that donors were harassed and that the $100 cumulative threshold for disclosing donor identification is too low. The state defense team argued that publicizing campaign donor identities is critical for an informed electorate.
U.S. District Judge Morrison England, Jr. ruled in favor of the state. The ruling is expected to be repealed.
California law requires the disclosure of the identity of anyone who contributes $100 or more to a campaign. ProtectMarriage.com said the $100 limit was too low, and it claimed it qualified for an exception to disclosure laws once granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Socialist Workers Party.
England was skeptical throughout the hearing. The Socialist Workers Party involved relatively few people, he said, and belonging to the NAACP in the early 1950s “could cause you to be killed.” In contrast, he said, Proposition 8 proponents not only enjoyed the support of millions of people, but prevailed in the election.
The judge read from a batch of declarations in which people claimed yard signs were stolen, that they received harassing phone calls, or, in one case, that people protested outside someone’s business. “That’s the extent of what happened,” he said.
The docket for the case, including the January 2009 order denying a preliminary injunction on disclosures is available here. The October 20, 2011 ruling had not been uploaded to that site as of today’s post (it may be available on PACER, I haven’t checked).
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