Senator Pam Roach swoops in to defend I-1366 in court
Too many politicians think the initiative process is a spectator sport. They prefer to sit back and wait to see how it all turns out.
That’s not how Senator Roach feels about it. She’s not content sitting in the stands, she prefers to be on the field.
She’s a fighter.
So last week, on her own time and on her own dime, she asked the state supreme court for permission to file an amicus brief advocating and defending Initiative 1366 (they agreed).
In a profession littered with talkers, Pam Roach is a doer.
In 10 short pages, she decimates the pathetic arguments made by opponents and illustrates why we named her our Legislator of the Year in 2014.
Here’s a few extraordinary excerpts:
* Unlike the Plaintiffs, however, she is one of the more than 339,000 voters who signed an Initiative 1366 petition so that voters would have the chance to vote on it. If the court removes this qualified statewide initiative from the ballot – something no court has ever done in our state’s history – she and other voters will be irreparably harmed because their right to free speech and First Amendment rights will be undermined, because those who have signed this initiative will not be able to express their views on this initiative at the ballot box. A logical consequence of such an unprecedented exclusion of a qualified statewide initiative from the ballot will be the undermining of the people’s faith in the initiative process itself. For millions of voters, their signature on a petition and their initiative vote at the ballot box is their only evidence that the initiative system works, that the people’s voice can be heard in Olympia.
* In their brief to the Supreme Court, Appellants wrote: “Neither I-1366’s sponsors nor the State will suffer injury from enjoining I-1366 from appearing on the ballot …”. This is what spurred Senator Roach to file this amicus brief: the citizens’ initiative process is not just about the sponsors and the State. This argument ignores the 339,000 voters who signed petitions, the scores of citizens who spent thousands of hours collecting those signatures, the hundreds of people who donated funds, and the millions of voters eager to cast a vote for or against Initiative 1366 in November. All those people will be irreparably harmed if they aren’t given the opportunity to vote on Initiative 1366. Appellants are two legislators, two county officials, and a handful of citizens whose standing to bring this action is at issue, and none of whom are harmed in any way by allowing the people to vote at the ballot box on the duly-qualified Initiative 1366.
* Pre-election predictions about what will happen if an initiative is approved by voters are almost always wrong and are speculative. Prior to the voters’ approval of Initiative 695, Governor Gary Locke did not support lowering car tab taxes and there were not 84 votes in the House and 39 votes in the senate for that change. But after the people’s vote, that level of legislative support materialized. If the people speak loudly enough, the Legislature listens. But if the citizens are not allowed to speak as a result of a court-ordered censoring of their collective expression at the ballot box which would prevent a public vote on a qualified state initiative, then legislators will be prevented from hearing from their constituents, resulting in disenfranchisement, disillusionment, and cynicism by the very people they were elected to represent.
* The Appellants’ are claiming that they will be irreparably harmed if the people are allowed to vote on Initiative 1366. Not so, there is no demonstrable harm to any party by a public vote on an initiative. It is the voters who will be irreparably harmed if Initiative 1366 is removed from the ballot and blocked from a vote because it will prevent the voters from expressing their views on the measure. It is the 339,236 voters who signed petitions who will be irreparably harmed if Initiative 1366 is blocked because they signed those petitions to ensure a vote.
* As the longest serving senator currently in the Legislature, Senator Roach knows how Olympia works. She believes it will work better if Initiative 1366 is voted on and passed. She urges the court not to take the unprecedented and undemocratic step of preventing the people from voting on a qualified statewide initiative. Let the voters cast their votes for and against Initiative 1366 and allow the checks-and-balances of the legislative process and initiative process to resolve this issue. She urges the Court to deny Appellants the relief they seek.
RESPECTFULLY submitted this 25th day of August, 2015. Stephen Pidgeon, Attorney for Pam Roach
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You can read it in its entirety here: https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Roach1366.pdf
Please take the time to shoot her a quick email thanking her for her defense of Initiative 1366. Cut and paste these addresses into the “To” line of your email:
As we explained last week, Initiative 1366 is on the ballot — so it will take the state supreme court reversing the lower court’s ruling keeping it on the November ballot. Such an action would contradict 2 unanimous state supreme court rulings (2005’s Coppernol 9-0 ruling and 2007’s Futurewise 9-0 ruling). The deadline for doing so is this Friday, September 4th.
We will continue to keep you updated on this.