Opponents file lawsuit to prevent the people from voting on I-1366
If you can’t win a vote, you try to cancel it or block it.
Politicians clearly believe that voters overwhelmingly support I-1366’s taxpayer protection policies and that’s why they desperately want to take away the people’s right to vote on it.
So they filed a don’t-let-the-people-vote lawsuit this week.
Two unanimous state supreme court rulings have stopped lawsuits just like this one.
In 2005, all 9 justices on the Washington State Supreme Court rejected an effort by special-interest groups to stop the people from voting on a qualified initiative. In their 9-0 ruling, the High Court wrote: “It has been a longstanding rule of our jurisprudence that we refrain from inquiring into the validity of a proposed law, including an initiative or referendum, before it has been enacted.” Coppernol v Reed
Just two years later, opponents sued to prevent voters from voting on another qualified initiative, essentially asking the state supreme court “Did you really mean it?” They sure did. In their 2nd unanimous ruling, this one in 2007, all 9 justices wrote: “Preelection review of initiative measures is highly disfavored. Coppernoll v. Reed, 155 Wash.2d 290, 297, 119 P.3d 318 (2005). The fundamental reason is that ‘the right of initiative is nearly as old as our constitution itself, deeply ingrained in our state’s history, and widely revered as a powerful check and balance on the other branches of government.’ Id. at 296-97, 119 P.3d 318. Given the preeminence of the initiative right, preelection challenges to the substantive validity of initiatives are particularly disallowed. Id. at 297, 119 P.3d 318. Such review, if engaged in, would involve the court in rendering advisory opinions, would violate ripeness requirements, would undermine the policy of avoiding unnecessary constitutional questions, and would constitute unwarranted judicial meddling with the legislative process. Id. at 298, 119 P.3d 318. Thus, preelection substantive challenges are not justiciable. Id. at 300-01, 119 P.3d 318. Further, substantive preelection review could unduly infringe on the citizens’ right to freely express their views to their elected representatives. Id. at 298, 119 P.3d 318.” Futurewise v Reed
Editorials were unanimous too:
Walla Walla Union Bulletin: “Pre-emptive legal challenge of initiatives is a mistake. We see barring an initiative from the ballot as an abridgment of free speech. Any constitutional test in court should come after the election. That’s the way the system was designed to work.”
Tacoma News Tribune: “The high court got it right: Give initiatives to voters. The court said, ‘No! in 2005. This time, it essentially said, ‘Read our lips: Don’t try it again.’ Let’s hope these two unanimous precedents get the message across to would-be initiative killers in the future. The willingness of citizens to sign the petitions determines whether the initiative will be put on the ballot in the first place. And the vote of the electorate in November determines whether the bill becomes law. Whatever one thinks of the content of an initiative, the process is pure democracy – and deserving of utmost respect. And as the court noted, initiatives – whether or not they are ultimately struck down by the courts – represent a chance for voters to ‘send a message’ to their elected representatives. They tell lawmakers what the public thinks about the issue in question. So let the voters have at it.”
Seattle Times: “Initiative tampering is dangerous … We believe their lawsuit should fail because it would undermine the rights of the people to petition their government. … that is an attempt to change our political system, in which courts don’t decide whether a measure is constitutional until after the people approve it. It’s a slow way, but it’s our way, and it has the advantage of allowing the people to say what they want. That is how car tabs were lowered: the people voted to lower them, the court threw the measure out, and the Legislature lowered them anyway. The political message got through. The Seattle Times did not support that initiative, and over the years we have expressed our dislike of many others. But we defend the right of initiative. The Futurewise-SEIU lawsuit would expand the power of political groups to shrink the people’s choices before an election. We are against it.”
Again, the state supreme court has twice issued unanimous rulings, making it clear to all anti-initiative groups that they shouldn’t go knocking on the court’s door every time an initiative qualifies for the ballot. The voters have a right to vote and that right shouldn’t be taken away just because a bunch of politicians and special interest groups don’t trust the voters.