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
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.