NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Parents, teachers, students go to court to get Tim Eyman’s I‑1053 overturned

A coali­tion rep­re­sent­ing par­ents, teach­ers, stu­dents, and law­mak­ers announced this morn­ing that it has filed a law­suit in King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court ask­ing that Tim Eyman and BP’s Ini­tia­tive 1053 be ful­ly strick­en from the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton because it is bla­tant­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

Plain­tiffs include the League of Edu­ca­tion Vot­ers, Wash­ing­ton Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Sam Hunt, Reuven Car­lyle, Cindy Ryu, David Frockt, Deb Eddy, Chris Reyk­dal, Mike Sells, Jamie Ped­er­sen, and for­mer Chief Jus­tice Robert Utter.

The suit con­tends, as we have for years, that I‑1053 vio­lates Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 of the State Con­sti­tu­tion, which holds that the stan­dard for pas­sage of leg­is­la­tion shall be a major­i­ty vote, in keep­ing with the inten­tions of Amer­i­ca’s founders. It asks that I‑1053 be abol­ished in its entire­ty, and our state’s Con­sti­tu­tion upheld.

“Washington’s con­sti­tu­tion makes it clear the state’s para­mount duty is to ‘make ample pro­vi­sion’ for the edu­ca­tion of every child,” said Chris Korsmo, chief exec­u­tive of the League of Edu­ca­tion Vot­ers in a release announc­ing the action.

“This statute, and sim­i­lar mea­sures enact­ed in recent years, ham­strings our state’s abil­i­ty to invest in the qual­i­ty pub­lic schools our chil­dren need to suc­ceed in life.”

“Our state Con­sti­tu­tion is the ulti­mate expres­sion of the will of the peo­ple. Mak­ing sure our laws – whether passed by the leg­is­la­ture or by cit­i­zens through the ini­tia­tive process – abide by the con­sti­tu­tion is crit­i­cal to pro­tect­ing democ­ra­cy and the rule of law,” added state Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jamie Ped­er­sen, chair of the House Judi­cia­ry com­mit­tee.

We at NPI hope the suit will be suc­cess­ful, but if his­to­ry is any indi­ca­tion, our courts will try to shirk their respon­si­bil­i­ty to defend our Con­sti­tu­tion and wash their hands of this mat­ter, as they have in the past.

The Supreme Court of Wash­ing­ton has dis­missed — on tech­ni­cal­i­ties — a grand total of three pri­or law­suits that jus­ti­fi­ably sought to inval­i­date I‑1053’s pre­de­ces­sors, I‑960 and I‑601. (These cas­es were, in chrono­log­i­cal order, Walk­er v. Munro, Future­wise v. Reed, and Brown v. Owen. They were decid­ed in 1994, 2007, and 2009, respec­tive­ly).

The Court has nev­er decid­ed the con­sti­tu­tion­al ques­tion that is at the heart of this law­suit. Maybe it will do this time. But we won’t be too sur­prised if it does­n’t. We’ve watched the court dodge hav­ing to deal with this mat­ter before. That’s the unfor­tu­nate prece­dent they’ve set.

This suit rep­re­sents the fourth attempt to get the Court to do its job — uphold­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. Inter­est­ing­ly, the attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the plain­tiffs in this case — Paul Lawrence — also argued Walk­er sev­en­teen years ago.

From what I can tell, Lawrence has attempt­ed to draft a com­plaint that antic­i­pates the kinds of objec­tions the courts have raised before. The por­tion of the com­plaint that address­es stand­ing notes, “Plain­tiffs have stand­ing to bring this action on mul­ti­ple alter­na­tive grounds.”

In part, this is because a num­ber of the indi­vid­u­als bring­ing the com­plaint are harmed in mul­ti­ple ways. For instance, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris Reyk­dal is a school board mem­ber in addi­tion to being a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

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One Comment

  1. You appear to know so much about the legal his­to­ry of this… like you wrote the book in it or some­thing. This post could do with some pic­tures or doc­u­ments to dri­ve your mes­sage home a bit, but it’s still well writ­ten. This is won­der­ful blog. A great read. I will def­i­nite­ly be back.

    # by Andrew Pelt :: August 10th, 2011 at 8:39 AM