Referendum 71 signatures are still under lock and key—for the moment. This morning US District Judge Benjamin Settle agreed to extend a restraining order that prevents the release of the referendum's contentious petition forms, which (according to R-71 backers) protects signers from being harassed by gay rights supporters.

However, Settle agreed to the Secretary of State's request to expedite the hearing schedule for Doe v. Reed, meaning that the case may be tried as soon as November.

Protect Marriage Washington, the plaintiffs of the case and the main group behind R-71, will need to release a list of witnesses to give the Attorney General time to review PMW's evidence.

Settle is the same judge who originally ruled in favor of PMW in September 2009, accepting their argument that releasing the petitions could open signers to harassment and stifle their First Amendment rights. Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna fought that ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that initiative petitions  are public records and cannot be hidden. However, they did allow case-by-case challenges, giving plaintiffs the opportunity to prove release would constitute a threat to signers' safety.

PMW attempted to convince the Supreme Court that people who signed R-71 deserved anonymity, only to earn a beatdown from the court's conservative firebrand, Antonin Scalia (not known for his gay-friendly opinions). Scalia told PMW's attorney "the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate… you can't run a democracy this way, with everybody being afraid of having his political positions known."
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