A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that those who sign ballot petitions don't have the right to keep their names confidential may one day mandate that the names of those in Utah who signed the ethics petition have their names revealed.
In Utah, the group Utahns for Ethical Government convinced a judge to sign an order protecting the names of 73,000 Utahns who signed the ethics reform initiative petition. UEG says it fears political retaliation from opponents of the petition drive. That's what Protect Marriage Washington, which organized a petition drive against a gay rights law in Washington, argued before the high court. But the Supreme Court, by an 8-1 decision, said that revealing names does not chill a signer's free speech.
We agree with the U.S. Supreme Court. Signing a petition is like signing a contract. It should be a public record. But that's as far as we go in that matter. Under no circumstances should someone who signs a petition be allowed later to delete his or her name from the petition. That is what the Republican leadership in this state wants. The GOP wants the petition signers names released so it can harass residents of Utah to try to remove their names from the ethics reform petition.
As mentioned, signing a petition is like signing a contract, and you don't break a contract after you have signed it. Claims by some Republican Party members that Utahns were "fooled" into signing the petition is a condescending argument that shows a deep disrespect for their neighbors. It's the old argument canard that people are too stupid to know what is best for them and we have to educate them on what's "right."
Thanks, but the people don't need that kind of "help." Organizers are still gathering signatures and we hope that UEG's goal for real ethics reform in Utah will eventually be put to a 2012 vote.