Late last year, after voting concluded in the 2019 general election, dishonest initiative promoter Tim Eyman announced that his singular focus in 2020 would be getting rid of Governor Jay Inslee, as opposed to attempting to qualify an initiative to the presidential general election ballot.
Eyman has now spent almost a year bashing Inslee and running for office himself, with nothing to show for it. Voters resoundingly rejected his gubernatorial candidacy and then rejected the candidacy of Republican Loren Culp (who Eyman had endorsed), overwhelmingly backing Governor Inslee’s bid for a third term.
Inslee’s big victory has had quite the effect on Eyman.
Instead of questioning the results of the election (as Loren Culp has), Eyman has simply stopped talking about the gubernatorial race altogether, at least in public. He has chosen to focus on another, even more painful loss… the demise of I‑976, his 2019 initiative, which the Supreme Court unanimously overturned last month.
Since November 3rd, Eyman has sent four consecutive emails asking his band of loyal fans to lobby the nine member Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling, primarily with political arguments, as opposed to legal arguments.
The justices are not legislators, but Eyman doesn’t care. He’s treating them as such anyway, and asking his fans to follow his example.
Hilariously, both that motion and the the prefabricated email Eyman is supplying to his fans relies heavily on the legal conclusions of King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson, who Eyman harshly attacked during the earlier phase of the case as hopelessly in the pocket of I‑976 opponents.
When Judge Ferguson landed the case, Eyman argued he should be disqualified on the basis that he sits on the bench in King County and was appointed by Governor Inslee… stupid, utterly nonsensical arguments that were not taken seriously by Judge Ferguson or the other parties in the case, but which were sadly repeated by many media outlets. After Judge Ferguson issued an injunction about a year ago blocking I‑976 from going into effect, Eyman was livid.
Later, however, when actually weighing the initiative’s constitutionality or lack thereof, Ferguson upheld much of I‑976, which pleased Eyman. Though Ferguson did strike down two of I‑976’s provisions, he left the rest of the measure intact.
The case then moved up to the Supreme Court, where it had been destined to go from the beginning. All nine justices disagreed with Judge Ferguson’s analysis, and I‑976 was voided in its entirety, leaving Eyman seething.
Eyman’s anger is understandable.
He really, really, really wants I‑976 to be implemented. He is deeply and personally obsessed with wrecking transit funding in Washington State.
Specifically, Eyman wants to see bus routes discontinued, rail expansion projects terminated, ferry riders made to shoulder even more of WSF’s operating costs, and local roads left in a state of neglect and disrepair… all because he believes the only transportation-related public service worth investing in is highways.
Eyman deliberately engineered I‑976 to be a wrecking ball for multimodal transportation infrastructure, targeting not only vehicle fees for repeal, but even the slice of the sales tax that goes to the state’s multimodal account.
Eyman was transparent about his agenda with Republican audiences, but to the general public, he pitched I‑976 as a tax fairness measure, because his transit destroying agenda is not something most people agree with.
Enough voters were duped by Eyman’s lies (not confused, but duped) that I‑976 was on its way to being implemented as of Election Day a year ago, despite the efforts of a broad and diverse coalition to defeat the measure.
Fortunately, after the electoral effort ended, a coalition of local governments and pro-transit organizations joined forces to keep the fight against I‑976 going.
Since Eyman had not bothered to take care when drafting I‑976 to ensure it could withstand judicial scrutiny, there were plenty of defects available for the coalition to cite as a basis for arguing that I‑976 should be struck down.
All nine Supreme Court justices agreed that I‑976 was unconstitutional on Article II, Section 19 grounds. That’s the very same provision that has been the undoing of many other Eyman initiatives, too. Article II, Section 19, which dates back to statehood, requires that the titles of bills and ballot measures expressly state what the measure is about. It also prohibits the practice of logrolling: tying multiple unrelated things together into one piece of legislation.
In striking down Eyman’s I‑976, the Court was discharging its duty and responsibility to uphold the Washington State Constitution, without regard to whether its decision would be well-received or not.
The Court’s nine justices are all formidable jurists. Many of them were once Superior Court judges themselves, including incoming Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez (the author of the opinion in the case), Justice Mary Yu, Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, and Justice G. Helen Whitener. Other justices have worked in district and municipal courts, like Justices Barbara Madsen and Susan Owens.
Unlike Tim Eyman, each of the justices has a strong background in the law. Many of them even teach the law in addition to serving on the Court.
Sadly, rather than respecting their wisdom and judgment, Eyman is attacking them, baselessly accusing them of violating their oaths of office and returning a decision based on politics.… while pleading them with them to overturn themselves so that Eyman’s plot to defund transit can go ahead.
It won’t be long before Eyman drops this futile effort to rescue I‑976 from the legal graveyard where it’s now buried and switches gears to promote a new con. In fact, Eyman has indicated he’ll be sharing his plans for 2021 later today in a Facebook streaming appearance with his fan club.