Judge does to liberal initiative what he would have done if it had been ours: booted it off the ballot because petitions didn’t comply with the law
It was obvious the petitions for the anti-gun-rights initiative were screwed up — but many didn’t think the court would do anything about it.
Justifiably, we are all very skeptical about judges and the courts in the state of Washington (cynical might be a better word). So Judge Dixon booting this liberal initiative off the ballot surprises many.
But I had faith that it’d go our way.
Why? I knew a few things that others didn’t:
* I am very proud to say that I helped connect superstar attorneys Joel Ard and David DeWolf with Alan Gottlieb’s 2nd Amendment Foundation to handle the litigation. Ard and DeWolf are a dream team of legal talent — we are incredibly fortunate to have them on our side. Remember, they handled without charge my successful lawsuit protecting the initiative process (Eyman v Wyman) earlier this year. And Ard and DeWolf, both big 2nd amendment supporters, were also thrilled to finally have a paying client. 🙂
* I read the legal briefs by everyone involved. Ard & DeWolf’s arguments were brilliant, clear, and compelling. But even more impactful was the brief and the declarations by Secretary of State Kim Wyman. She made it abundantly clear to the court that she was extremely concerned about the dangerous precedent this would set to have a consequence-free, lawless initiative process. The judge went out of his way to say “The court finds that the Secretary of State did exactly what she was required to do.”
Right after the hearing, I did this short 60 second video, check it out:
Here’s a picture of Judge Dixon from today:
Here’s why I firmly believe his ruling will stand and the initiative will not be on the ballot:
* No time for serious reconsideration. The state supreme court has to rule no later than August 31 (deadline for Secretary of State to know what appears on the ballot and voters pamphlet). That’s 2 weeks from today. The 1639 campaign must file their appeal Monday, Ard/DeWolf’s reply is due Wed, 1639 response due Fri, then on Tues, Aug 28th the supreme court will issue a decision on whether there will be oral argument or not. Their final decision must be made on Friday, Aug 31. Such a tight timeline alone makes it nearly impossible for them to overturn Dixon’s decision.
* High court won’t find his ruling arbitrary and capricious. As David DeWolf explained to me by phone, Judge Dixon didn’t just enjoin/prevent the Secretary of State from putting 1639 on the ballot, he also made several significant legal findings in his 20 minute ruling. One of the most significant was that the 1639 campaign was warned their petitions were out of compliance and yet did nothing. DeWolf called that an “additional nail in the coffin” for the other side. The High Court would have to determine that his findings and decision were “arbitrary and capricious.” That is an extremely high standard. It essentially means they would have to find that his ruling was completely nuts. That’s not likely.
Here’s Judge Dixon’s ruling from the bench — it lasts about 20 minutes (I think you’ll find his reasoning to be logical, methodical, and understandable):
I strongly oppose Initiative 1639 but that’s not why I’m happy it’s been booted off the ballot.
For 20 years, our initiative efforts have consistently received the highest level of scrutiny, by opponents, by the media, by the courts, and by the politicians. A microscope is put on absolutely everything we do. Any undotted i or uncrossed t and it’s over. Could you image the reaction to one of our petitions being this screwed up? They’d be screaming I be drawn and quartered. I’m happy to see that a liberal initiative was held to the same standard that our initiative would have been. Too many of our supporters have lost faith in the system and this court ruling gives all of us reason to not give up on it.
When the Legislature monkeyed with liberal initiative I-940, I filed a lawsuit to give the people the right to vote on it EVEN THOUGH I OPPOSED IT.
I don’t suport the De-Escalate Washington Initiative I-940. I’ll be voting no on it. But their initiative campaign followed the rules, got enough signatures, and qualified it. When the Legislature changed it, passed the changed version, and then blocked the people from voting on it, I filed a lawsuit to give the people the right to vote on it. I didn’t do that because I supported the initiative, I did it because I believe in the initiative process and need to make sure that process is defended.
Who’s to blame for Initiative 1639 being booted off the ballot?
The proponents of Initiative 1639 will try to blame the 2nd Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb for being booted off the ballot. They’ll try to blame Judge Dixon and Secretary of State Kim Wyman and probably even me. But none of us printed up those defective petitions. 1639 folks need look in the mirror to find who to blame.
No one will ever make that mistake again.
I can already hear anti-initiative legislators in Olympia salivating at the chance to “fix” the initiative process so this never happens again. No need. Judge Dixon’s ruling guarantees no one will ever make that mistake again. Getting kicked off the ballot is a scarring experience that every other potential initiative sponsor will take to heart.
Top 5 Contributors: Suzanne Burke, Puget Sound Chapter NECA PAC, Andrew Skotdal, Tim Eyman, Thomas O’Brien