By | Farrell Keough
This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
In a recent Hagerstown Herald-Mail news report, “Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, wants petitions for referendum in Maryland to be granted the same secrecy as an individual person’s vote.”
You may remember the issue surrounding the petition drive by MDPetitions.com. Put simply, it allowed the voters the ability to decide upon the controversial Dream Act. This legislation (very generally) is the allowance for certain children of illegal immigrants to attend our state colleges as legal residents, thus allowing them to pay in-state tuition.
“Parrott said hundreds of petition signers contacted his group, angry that identifying information they used on the petitions was released upon request. They argued that signing a petition was akin to privately stepping into a voting booth.”
This position should prove quite interesting when it reaches the courts. In a similar suit from the West Virginia Record, “[t]he Justices [of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals] reversed Circuit Judge David Sanders, who ruled that the definition of public record didn’t fit the petitions because a private group circulated them.”
Let’s look at some of the postulates Justice Menis Ketchum puts forth in his opinion. “The public’s right to be informed concerning the affairs of their government lies at the very core of the principles of democratic governance.”
This is a very general claim and one which has been a part of the fabric of our nation. Freedom of the press, freedom to redress our government, and freedom of information in general have been privileges and rights enjoyed by our citizens since our founding.
Read the complete article at The Tentacle.