Citing a “systematic attempt” of intimidation and harassment targeting their supporters, leading backers of Proposition 8 have filed federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s campaign finance laws which make donor names, addresses and employers public.
The ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8 committee filed the challenge on Thursday.
In a press release, the committee claims Proposition 8 supporters have suffered various acts of harassment and even death threats from opponents of the successful California ballot measure which overruled a court decision imposing same-sex “marriage” in the state.
“There has been a systematic attempt to intimidate, threaten and harass donors to the Proposition 8 campaign,” commented Ron Prentice, Chairman of ProtectMarriage.com. “This harassment is made possible because of California’s unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules as applied to ballot measure committees where even donors of as little as $100 must have their names, home addresses and employers listed on public documents. These disclosure rules violate the US constitution in numerous ways. We are standing up for our contributors to ensure that the harassment stops.”
The suit claims that anti-Proposition 8 groups such as Californians Against Hate exist for the primary purpose of identifying and taking action against supporters of Proposition 8.
The suit also cited numerous examples of threatening and harassing e-mails, phone calls and post cards targeting Proposition 8 supporters.
One such message read “Burn in hell.” Another reportedly said, “Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter.”
“I just wanted to call and let you know what a great picture that was of you and the other Nazi’s [sic] in the newspaper….Don’t worry though, we have plans for you and your friends,” yet another message read.
Acts of vandalism, property destruction, distribution of harassing flyers, and threats to ruin businesses employing Proposition 8 supporters are also detailed in the lawsuit.
“The United States Supreme Court has ruled that campaign disclosure laws can be invalidated if it subjects supporters to threats, harassment or reprisals from government, or private parties,” Prentice added. “That is exactly what has happened with supporters of Proposition 8.”
Among its claims that disclosure requirements of California’s Political Reform Act are unconstitutional, the suit argues that the right of campaign donors to exercise their First Amendment rights free from threats, harassment, and reprisals outweighs the state’s interest in compelling donor information to be disclosed.
The lawsuit also argues that the Political Reform Act’s requirement that political committees report all contributors of $100 is constitutionally overbroad. Likewise, the requirement that ballot measure committees file any reports after the election is argued to be unconstitutional because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
Further, the lawsuit challenges the Act’s lack of a mechanism to purge all reports related to a ballot measure after the election has taken place.