THE Washington Supreme Court’s two-thirds-for-taxes decision came down to a sentence in the state constitution. The language was just fuzzy enough for the court to go either way.
What an imbecilic synopsis of yesterday's Supreme Court decision. No, the language was not fuzzy. And no, it did not come down to a single sentence. "The plain language, constitutional history, and weight of persuasive authority support reading this provision as setting both a minimum and a maximum voting requirement," the majority concluded. And apart from wishful thinking, that was the only legally sound conclusion to make.
The nine justices did what they always do. They voted. Three wanted the law to stand and six wanted it to fall. Theirs was a legal decision — and a political one.
Again, no. First, this had nothing to do with what the justices "wanted." It had everything to do with what the Constitution said. And the majority opinion was purely a legal one.
Second, the editors have their math wrong. Six justices declared the provision to be unconstitutional, one dissenting justice argued that it was not, and the two remaining justices vehemently argued against having to make this decision at all. Justices Charles Johnson and Debra Stephens emphatically did not vote for "the law to stand." In their dissent, they did not mention the merits of the case at all.
Justice Jim Johnson, who was on the losing side, noted that the six who struck down the law — Justices Susan Owens, Barbara Madsen, Mary Fairhurst, Charles Wiggins and Steven González and Justice pro tem Tom Chambers — overruled 1,575,655 Washington voters.
Blah, blah, blah.
The rest of the editorial is pretty much just more of the same: A long, drawn out threat of political retribution. Ignore the will of the voters at your peril, they warn justices and lawmakers. This from the editors who relentlessly urge legislators to overturn the twice-approved initiatives to require training and certification of home health workers. Whatever.
That the editors write stupidly about legal issues is to be expected. They write stupidly about a lot of things. But that they consistently urge justices to consider popular sentiment when considering matters of law shows just how little respect they have for the very notion of a constitutional democracy.