Court issues final ruling – only I-940 on the ballot – my success protecting the initiative process with my lawsuit (Eyman v Wyman) is the most impactful victory I’ve ever had – all 9 justices agreed Legislature can’t block a public vote on a qualified initiative
Huge victory for the initiative process
On the last day of this year’s legislative session, the Constitution was violated by the Legislature. An initiative to the legislature — I-940 — had qualified and the Constitution gave the Legislature 3 options:
* Adopt the initiative as written
* Let voters vote on the initiative as written
* Let the voters vote on the initiative as written alongside the Legislature’s alternative
The Legislature manufactured a 4th option: change the initiative, then adopt it, then block voters from voting on it.
A lower court judge rejected the Legislature’s 4th option and ordered I-940 as written to appear on the November ballot.
On Tuesday (two days ago), all 9 justices on the state supreme court ruled that the Legislature’s 4th option was wrong. They all agreed the Legislature created a mess, but the justices all had their own opinions on how to clean up that mess. But 5 of them decided to go with what the Constitution — and common sense — demanded: let voters vote on the original initiative.
But then the high-priced lawyers for the initiative sponsors filed an “emergency motion for reconsideration”, essentially telling the court that they didn’t really understand what they had done. Rather than ignoring it, the supreme court said “OK, we’re open to changing our minds, we want all parties to tell us why we should change our minds. And get us your legal arguments in a few hours.” Everyone was shell-shocked. The Secretary of State was livid, her legal briefs were scathing in reacting to the court second-guessing itself, telling them that she had already begun processing ballots and voters pamphlet arguments and had to “halt everything” to write a new brief. My attorneys said the court’s ruling was fine and there was no reason to reconsider it.
This morning, the court issued an order DENYING the motion for reconsideration, agreeing with my attorneys. Translated: the court will stick with their original Tuesday morning decision which said I-940 will go on the ballot.
For 100 years, initiatives qualify and then voters vote on them. The Legislature tried to destroy that basic requirement and the supreme court twisted itself into knots but finally came to the conclusion “ya, let’s just go with the Constitution.”
Last March, on the last day of the session, the Legislature violated the Constitution. It was on a Thursday. I then worked for 3 days straight, on my own doing the best I could being that I’m not an attorney, to draft a legal challenge, and filed it the following Monday. If not for Eyman v Wyman, the Legislature would’ve gotten away with violating the Constitution and no one would ever go forward with another initiative to the Legislature again. They would know that their initiative would be susceptible to this same kind of legislative interference and manipulation.
I had to do something.
I’ve always been inspired by the saying: Leap … and the net will appear.
In my 20 years of being a political activist, it’s often worked out that way for me.
In this case, I was prepared to handle this litigation on my own as a pro se petitioner. But one week after filing my lawsuit, a brilliant attorney named Joel Ard offered to take over for me and do it all pro bono (without charge). Within a few days, attorney David DeWolf on behalf of Sen. Mike Padden intervened. Then this dream team of legal talent went to work and secured an overwhelming victory before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller. And then secured today’s victory too.
I’m very proud of every initiative I’ve ever been involved with, ones that passed, ones that didn’t, ones that didn’t even qualify. But no individual initiative success can compare to saving the initiative process itself. Today’s victory stands above it all.
For over 100 years in Washington state, citizens have sponsored, and qualified for a public vote, initiatives on a whole range of topics, some conservative, some liberal. Thanks to my legal challenge and the stellar work of my attorneys and one very good lower court judge and 9 justices on the state supreme court, no future Legislature will ever try this particular attack ever again.
Today is a good day. Today is actually a very good day. I’m extraordinarily proud of what we accomplished together over the past few months, preserving the right of the people to do initiatives to the Legislature.
The first beneficiary of today’s court victory is our current initiative. Initiative 976 is the first initiative to the Legislature since this ruling came down. If and when we get enough signatures by the December 31 deadline, then we WILL be voting on it next year. No way next year’s Legislature can stop that. But first we’ve gotta get it qualified.
To get enough signatures, we need to raise a lot more money. Me selling off my family’s retirement fund and loaning the campaign $500,000 has really inspired folks to donate. But we need a lot more.
And we need more people collecting signatures.
Top 5 Contributors: Suzanne Burke, Puget Sound Chapter NECA PAC, Andrew Skotdal, Tim Eyman, Thomas O’Brien