The Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court has set­tled on a sched­ule for hear­ing the appeal of King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge William Down­ing’s deci­sion in Lee v. State, the legal chal­lenge to Tim Eyman’s I‑1366, accord­ing to an order signed by Chief Jus­tice Bar­bara Mad­sen ear­li­er today. Wrote Madsen:

On Jan­u­ary 25, 2016, Appel­lant, the State of Wash­ing­ton, filed ‘Accel­er­at­ed Motion for Expe­dit­ed Review’ in the above ref­er­enced case. Respon­dents filed an answer on Jan­u­ary 26, 2016, and the State’s reply to the answer was filed on Jan­u­ary 27, 2016. The Court hav­ing con­sid­ered the motion, answer and reply, and hav­ing deter­mined by major­i­ty that the fol­low­ing order be entered:

Now, there­fore, it is here­by ORDERED: That the Appel­lan­t’s accel­er­at­ed motion for expe­dit­ed review is grant­ed. The sched­ule for per­fec­tion of the record and brief­ing shall be as follows:

  • Des­ig­na­tion of Clerk’s Papers: Jan­u­ary 29, 2016
  • Supe­ri­or Court to pro­vide index and File Clerk’s Papers at the Supreme Court: Feb­ru­ary 5, 2016
  • Appel­lan­t’s Open­ing Brief: Feb­ru­ary 5, 2016
  • Respon­den­t’s Response Brief: Feb­ru­ary 19, 2016
  • Appel­lan­t’s Reply Brief: Feb­ru­ary 26, 2016
  • Ami­cus Briefs, if any: March 2, 2016
  • Answer to Ami­cus Briefs, if any: March 10, 2016

Oral argu­ment will be heard on March 15, 2016, at 1:30 PM, as the 4th case in the afternoon.

DATED at Olympia, Wash­ing­ton this 29th day of Jan­u­ary, 2016.

For the Court

Bar­bara Madsen
Chief Justice

Argu­ment will be heard at the Tem­ple of Jus­tice in Olympia, which is where the State Supreme Court meets and works.

Appel­lants, rep­re­sent­ed by Deputy Solic­i­tor Gen­er­als Cal­lie Castil­lo and Rebec­ca Glas­gow and attor­ney Richard Stephens, had pushed the Court for an even tighter sched­ule, propos­ing that oral argu­ment be heard on March 10th (the last sched­uled day of the 2016 leg­isla­tive ses­sion) and that the Court rule the same day.

Respon­dents, rep­re­sent­ed by Paci­fi­ca Law Group, opposed this request. (The respon­dents are the plain­tiffs in the case, chal­leng­ing the valid­i­ty of I‑1366.)

“Respon­dents agree that this appeal should receive expe­dit­ed con­sid­er­a­tion but not on as rushed a sched­ule as pro­posed by the State,” wrote Paci­fi­ca’s attor­neys Paul Lawrence, Sarah Wash­burn, and Kym­ber­ly Evan­son. “This appeal rais­es issues that require full brief­ing and con­sid­ered delib­er­a­tion by the Court. And there is no ben­e­fit to set­ting argu­ment on the last day of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion or to issu­ing a one sen­tence deci­sion with opin­ion to fol­low that pro­vides lit­tle guidance.”

The Court reject­ed appel­lants’ request for oral argu­ment on March 10th and an imme­di­ate deci­sion to fol­low, but did agree to oral argu­ment on March 15th, when it was already set to hear argu­ment in three oth­er cases.

The time­line cho­sen by the Court gives it sev­er­al weeks to delib­er­ate pri­or to the date that the sales tax would have been low­ered were I‑1366 in effect. (The ini­tia­tive is cur­rent­ly unen­force­able due to Judge Down­ing’s decision.)

The Supreme Court can move quick­ly on a case when it wants to (as it demon­strat­ed in 2004 dur­ing the man­u­al recount of the 2004 guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion), but it usu­al­ly does­n’t. In League of Edu­ca­tion Vot­ers v. State, the land­mark case chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of I‑601 and its clones I‑960, I‑1053, and I‑1185, the Supreme Court did not pub­lish its deci­sion until many months after it had heard oral argument.

(I‑1366 is Tim Eyman’s response to the LEV decision.)

But per­haps the Court appre­ci­ates that a swift res­o­lu­tion to this case would be ben­e­fi­cial to the pub­lic inter­est, giv­en that I‑1366 is an attempt to black­mail the Leg­is­la­ture into doing Eyman’s bid­ding by threat­en­ing to wipe out $8 bil­lion in fund­ing for schools and vital pub­lic ser­vices over the next six years.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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