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.