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Campaign Finance Laws 1, Anonymity 0

A couple weeks ago I blogged about the lawsuit by supporters of Proposition 8, the California measure to ban gay marriage, seeking to withhold disclosure of the names of late campaign donors.

I mentioned that there’s a right to anonymous speech in some contexts, but that given the public interest in knowing who contributes to initiative campaigns, I wouldn’t bet on the Proposition 8 supporters’ lawsuit succeeding.

Neither did the judge. U. S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ruled against the Proposition 8 supporters, writing, “The court finds that the state is not facilitating retaliation by compelling disclosure.”

I’m all for free speech, and sometimes anonymity is important to avoid reprisals. But in the case of campaign donors to an initiative measure, I think the interest in knowing who’s behind campaign spending is vitally important, especially to avoid stealth deception campaigns. The judge got it right here.

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