I went out of my way to help our gun rights’ supporters with their legal challenge to I-1639 – here’s why
Since I’m a 24/7/365 political activist (with ADHD), I’m constantly looking for ways to make a difference
I’m like a shark, always swimming, constantly moving. I don’t just sit around and wait for people to ask for help. I am overtly pro-active in all areas of the initiative process.
When it comes to this year’s anti-gun-rights initiative, a bunch of our guns rights supporters were absolutely furious about the danger that Initiative 1639 had on the 2nd amendment. They were right of course, but that alone didn’t spur me to action. Then our folks complained that paid petitioners were using our $30 Tabs Initiative as “bait” to get folks to sign I-1639 petitions. That got me to write a lengthy explanation of how paid petitioning works.
And then I heard that the 1639 petitions didn’t comply with the constitutional requirement that the full text appear on the back. So I got involved. A lot.
The real hero of Friday’s victory was Alan Gottlieb of the 2nd Amendment Foundation. If not for him, that court victory wouldn’t have happened. Alan is one of my political heroes. After our first $30 Tabs Initiative passed in 1999, Alan was instrumental in nominating me for the prestigious Ronald Reagan Award. It’s essentially a national “activist of the year” award by the National Conservative Union. I received it in 2000, no doubt because of Alan’s efforts.
When it came to 1639, Alan had already hired attorney Shawn Newman to handle “Litigation Round 1” which was a direct appeal to the state supreme court. I did what I could to help on that, but the litigation was eventually sidelined by an assistant deputy court commissioner with delusions of grandeur.
It was at this point that I made the biggest impact on the effort, contacting my attorney Joel Ard and explaining to him what had happened in Round 1. He recognized immediately that an alternative legal route was better. I asked him if he’d be willing to handle “Litigation Round 2.” He demurred, I think, because he probably assumed that it was another pro bono effort (he had just handled for free my lawsuit over Initiative 940). When I said that Alan would likely be a paying client, Joel said he was all in.
I then called Alan, told him about Joel’s brilliance, experience, and expertise, and encouraged them to talk. They did, a deal was struck, and “Litigation Round 2” was initiated.
It was an expedited appeal in Thurston County Superior Court under a statute that required fast action by the court. Normal litigation would have never resolved things in time.
Attorney Joel Ard and Gonzaga University Law Professor David DeWolf teamed up (as they had for my earlier litigation) and their legal approach was handled brilliantly. The structure of their complaint and the statute they brought it under boxed in the process so that a resolution would be done in time. Their arguments were brilliant and easily understandable.
The biggest bombshell of the case was Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s reply brief and the accompanying declarations by her staff. Being sued normally forces you to be on the defensive. But Wyman ably defended her position to “accept” the petitions because that’s what the statute required, but she didn’t stop there. She highlighted the dangerous precedent it would set if the 1639 sponsors got away with this — it would result in a lawless, consequence-free initiative process. Even more significantly, her staff signed a declaration that said the 1639 folks lied when they claimed the Secretary of State’s staff had signed off on their petition design. That wasn’t true at all, and so the credibility of the 1639 sponsors with the court really took a big hit.
The day before the hearing, I wrote that the judge should boot the billionaires’ anti-gun-rights initiative off the ballot because their petitions were defective. I showed the enlarged copy of the 1639 petition showing all the errors and omissions in red:
I attended the hearing on Friday to see first-hand how the case turned out. I also thought my presence would remind the judge that his ruling would mean lawlessness for our initiatives too. And I also wanted to report on what happened.
My short video after the hearing has been seen nearly 14,000 times so far:
I feel confident the state supreme court will not reverse Judge Dixon’s reasonable ruling. No way in heck was his decision “arbitrary and capricious.” And my guess is they won’t even have oral argument. The High Court will simply affirm Dixon’s decision. We’ll know soon. I’ll let you know when I know.
Top 5 Contributors: Suzanne Burke, Puget Sound Chapter NECA PAC, Andrew Skotdal, Tim Eyman, Thomas O’Brien