Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Public Referendum Powers Dead - 7/14/05 - R.I.P.

In yet another setback for the citizens of Washington the state supreme court has ruled that the state legislature may use the emergency clause whenever it wants to avoid a public referendum on the legislation. At issue was a challenge to tax increases with less than a 2/3 majority vote. The 2/3 majority provision for increased taxes was at the heart of a voter initiative passed several years ago.

But a majority of the legislature declared an emergency existed, and the 2/3 majority requirement had to go. The irony--What is the nature of an emergency when less than 2/3 of those voting believe an emergency sufficient to require the tax increases exists?--apparently received no attention from the court, which relied on another case debacle, a challenge to the legislation that authorized construction of "Large Insurance Company" Field, in which the court adopted a fully deferential view of legislative determinations of emergency.

Stated alternatively, the court has adopted the position that if the legislature says an emergency exists then one exists, and the referendum powers do not exist. Period. End of discussion.

Justice Charles Johnson authored the majority opinion. He has twice sought, and received, endorsements from the Libertarian Party in past elections. In my view, he should not receive another, ever. After all, its an emergency.


Blogger Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey said...

That is very sad. I agree, no more endorsements for him.

3:57 PM  

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