Missouri Litigators Honored for Work to Protect Initiative Campaign’s First Amendment Rights

Fri, Jul 16 2010

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Dale Doerhoff and Heidi Doerhoff Vollet with the July 2010 John Lilburne Award. Both Dale and Heidi are being honored this month for their exceptional advocacy in support of the First Amendment and citizen initiative rights in Missouri.

“These two attorneys not only have the admiration of the Humane Society of Missouri and supporters of the ballot measure concerning dog breeding,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob, “but they have the gratitude of activists across the state and nation who appreciate their critical defense of the basic rights of everyone who proposes a ballot initiative.”

After the Humane Society of Missouri was ordered by Circuit Court Judge Jon E. Beetem to release internal polling and focus group data regarding their campaign to put a ballot initiative concerning puppy mills on the ballot, Dale Doerhoff and Heidi Doerhoff Vollet appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, arguing that the forced release of the sensitive data would do irreparable harm to their initiative campaign and violate their First Amendment rights.

“To make sensitive campaign information available to one’s political opposition is an abuse of the legal discovery process and would have a chilling effect on initiative campaigns – this one as well as others,” Jacob said.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Humane Society position, issuing a preliminary writ that will, for the moment, prevent the release of the data until oral argument is heard in the case on July 28 and a final decision made by the Court of Appeals.

“The Court of Appeals writ is not only an immediate victory for the First Amendment, but hopefully a final ruling will send a message that the justice system cannot be used by one’s political opponents to unfairly undermine ballot measures,” responded Jacob. “There are a number of groups all across the political spectrum supporting the work of Dale and Heidi in protecting all of our First Amendment rights.”

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans.  John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us www.CitizensInCharge.org.