State Supreme Court finds 2/3rd Requirement Unconstitutional

Published by “The Olympia Report” written by Jeff.Rhodes Feb. 28, 2013

The Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday lowered the threshold required to pass the massive tax increases mandated by its own McCleary decision and fund a long list of programs supported by Democrats in both houses of the Legislature by overturning Initiative 1053 and its two-thirds majority standard.

In a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Susan Owens, the court ruled that, “Article II, section 22 (of the Washington State Constitution) states that ‘(n)o bill shall become a law unless … a majority of the members elected to each house’ vote in its favor. The plain language, constitutional history and weight of persuasive authority support reading this provision as setting both a minimum and a maximum voting requirement.”

That opinion was criticized in a pair of stinging dissents by Justices Charles Johnson and James Johnson.

“In its eagerness to embroil itself in the political arena, the majority abandons any semblance of judicial restraint to declare the process of legislative enactment constitutionally infirm,” Charles Johnson wrote. “For the past two decades, the people of this state have repeatedly voted for the supermajority provision, as has the Legislature when no initiative occurred. The majority hardly recognizes, let alone analyzes, that this court has been repeatedly asked to step in and decide this issue, and we have consistently held and rejected that invitation.”

Justice James Johnson added, “Article II of our constitution, as modified by Amendment 7 to authorize initiatives and referenda, requires action on the part of the Legislature or a direct vote of the people to resolve legislative political issues such as taxation.

“The majority,” he continued, “ironically overrides our constitution and prior case law to enforce an invented policy concern — the fear that laws requiring a supermajority to raise taxes permit a ‘tyranny of the minority.’ Majority at 20. There is, of course, no historical evidence justifying such a concern in Washington.” Click here to read the full article.

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