On December 11, the 9th circuit ruled that groups organized to pass a ballot measure may not be forced to disclose their internal campaign messages. The controversy arose over the California campaign for Proposition 8 last year. Proposition 8, an initiative, banned same-sex marriages. After the measure passed, its opponents filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that a ban on same-sex marriages violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
As the trial proceeded in U.S. District Court, proponents of same-sex marriages asked the U.S. District Court to order the other side to produce its internal memos on campaign strategy. The District Court said the internal memos should be produced, but the 9th circuit has now countermanded that order. The 9th circuit said, “The potential chilling effect on political participation and debate is substantial”. The 38-page decision is here, and is a useful document describing earlier precedents that have ruled in favor of political privacy. The earliest federal precedents are from the 1950’s, when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped several southern states from forcing the NAACP to produce its membership lists, and lists of people who had contributed to it. Thanks to HowAppealing for the link.