The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in LEV v. State has now been up on the World Wide Web for a couple of hours, and we’ve been on the receiving end of a number of statements and press releases commenting on the decision. We’d like to share some of what we’re hearing with you.
First, Governor Jay Inslee released a very enthusiastic and thoughtful statement that we’re going to run in full, because it rocks:
The state Supreme Court did the right thing today in ruling that a supermajority requirement for ordinary legislation would alter our system of government. The supermajority requirement gave a legislative minority the power to squelch ideas even when those ideas had majority support. That is inconsistent with our fundamental form of representative democracy.
Majority rule is a foundation of our system of government. Alexander Hamilton understood this and warned that giving ‘the minority a negative upon the majority’ would cause ‘tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.’ James Madison understood this. And the framers of Washington’s Constitution had vigorous debate on the issue and were deliberate in embedding the principle of majority rule in our constitution.
Those principles have served the people of Washington well, and I’m heartened that the state Supreme Court acted today to protect our Constitution.
Indeed it did. Well said, Governor!
Representative Chris Reykdahl, one of the legislators who participated in the legal challenge, characterized the decision as historic.
“Today’s decision from the Washington State Supreme Court may very well be the most significant decision in our state’s history. Today the court made clear that our Constitution cannot be amended by the initiative process. This profound ruling means that profiteering initiative writers will not be able to take away protected freedoms and rights guaranteed to the people or the Legislature.”
“We must move forward now with caution – carefully and thoughtfully crafting an equitable tax system will take time and sincere commitment from legislators and citizens,” he added. “The restructuring process will take years, but we can and should begin this session by establishing a set of bipartisan taxing principles – fairness, stability, adequacy, and transparency are four key principles that will become the foundation for future transformation.”
The leaders of the two lead plaintiffs, the Washington Education Association and the League of Education Voters, also cheered the ruling in a joint statement.
“This ruling is a huge win for kids and schools,” said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters.
“Washington schools need to be fully funded in order to ensure that all kids reach their potential. This ruling, combined with the recent McCleary decision, will help ensure that our kids have all the resources they need to get an excellent education.”
“This latest Supreme Court ruling paves the way for the legislature to fully fund K-12 public schools as mandated by the Washington Constitution and the Court’s earlier McCleary decision,” agreed Mary Lindquist, President of the Washington Education Association, which represents thousands of teachers.
“We urge the House and the Senate to increase funding for our schools so we can begin to reduce overcrowded class sizes and expand all-day kindergarten. Our students’ future depends on it.”
“This [decision] squares with Article 2, Section 22 of the State Constitution, which requires a majority of members of each house voting yea for the passage of a bill,” noted Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson. “The Constitution does not differentiate between policy and revenue bills.”
“This decision ends the tyranny of the minority that the Washington State Legislature has endured for the last several years. Under I-1053 [and now I-1185] all it took were seventeen state senators to block any revenue measure from passing and indeed this has happened almost all the time.”
It has been wonderful to see so many activists celebrating and responding to the ruling on social media. We have much to be grateful for today. Six of our nine Supreme Court justices took a very brave stand and upheld our Constitution in the face of pressure from powerful business interests, editorial boards, and our state’s conservative political apparatus. They deserve our thanks.