• "Law is Dead in Washington state" - Outraged Reaction to Court Decision

    From Gene Poole@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 31 19:27:12 2019
    XPost: alt.freespeech, alt.survival, alt.politics.usa.constitution
    XPost: soc.retirement

    The Washington State constitution, Art. 2, sec. 1, contains an
    explicit direction that each “petition shall include the full
    text of the measure so proposed.” A state law incorporating this
    requirement specifies that all petitions circulated for
    signatures must have “a readable, full, true, and correct copy
    of the proposed measure printed on the reverse side of the

    The purpose is to fight fraud and misinformation by ensuring
    that all voters being asked to sign the initiative petition have
    the opportunity, at the time, to inform themselves and verify
    the details of the proposed law they are being called upon to
    support, but a recent decision by the Washington State Supreme
    Court regarding the latest gun control initiative in the
    Evergreen State calls into question the effectiveness of these

    The text of Initiative 1639 filed with the Washington secretary
    of state covers 30 pages. In addition to using a font tiny
    enough to shrink all 30 pages-worth of text to fit on a single
    page of the petition, the initiative sponsors neglected to use,
    in the petition provided to voters, the actual text of the
    initiative as it had been filed. Compounding this failure, the
    teeny text included in the petition lacked clear indications to
    actually show the changes – the very many changes – to the
    existing law proposed by Initiative 1639.

    The NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation, and other gun rights
    supporters had raised I-1639’s noncompliance with mandatory
    state requirements governing initiatives in severallegal

    On August 17, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon
    agreed that the initiative petition did not meet the “readable,
    full, true, and correct copy” requirement and issued an order
    prohibiting I-1639 from appearing on the November ballot. He
    absolved the secretary of state from any alleged breach of duty,
    as the law at issue empowered the secretary to reject a petition
    only in specified circumstances, and a failure to comply with
    the “readable, full, true, and correct copy” directive was not

    In such cases, though, Judge Dixon ruled it was the court’s duty
    to safeguard the interests of Washington’s voters and ensure
    “strict compliance with the initiative process.” He explicitly
    rejected the argument that close was good enough: “The court is
    not persuaded by the argument that substantial compliance is the
    proper analysis.” Holding up a copy of an actual petition page,
    he indicated the petition did not contain a “readable copy” of
    the initiative text, adding “I have 20-20 vision … I simply
    cannot read it.” Moreover, the petition lacked a true, accurate
    and correct replica of the initiative measure text as filed by
    the sponsor. “Voters have a right to know, and sponsors have a
    corresponding obligation to provide, what the initiative seeks
    to accomplish. …The text on the back of these petitions [does]
    not allow voters to make informed decisions. For this court to
    hold otherwise would be to condone noncompliance with the clear
    provisions of the law.”

    Backers of the initiative immediately appealed Judge Dixon’s
    ruling. On August 24th, the Washington Supreme Court reversed
    his decision.

    The appellate court did not dispute the findings made by Judge
    Dixon regarding the failings of the petition – that the “text on
    the back of the petitions was not readable and did not strictly
    comply with the statutory and constitutional requirements.”
    Instead, the court, in a unanimous decision, sidestepped the
    compliance issue entirely and held that the court lacked the
    authority to intervene. According to the Supreme Court, pre-
    election judicial review to protect the integrity of the
    initiative process and the mandates of the constitution was not
    available in this case. The court’s inherent mandamus power
    could be invoked to compel a public officer, like the secretary
    of state, to perform a nondiscretionary duty imposed by law.
    However, because the secretary “has no mandatory duty to not
    certify an initiative petition based on the readability,
    correctness, or formatting of the proposed measure printed on
    the back of the petitions,” the remedy could not apply.

    In her press release following the appellate court’s decision,
    Secretary of State Kim Wyman referred to the fact that she had
    previously “expressed significant concerns over the formatting”
    of the initiative petition and concluded, “Our voters deserve
    full and clear information about what they’re asked to sign

    The result of the ruling is that this flawed, unreadable, and
    non-compliant initiative has been cleared to appear on the

    The decision to allow the initiative to proceed has also fueled
    perceptions among Washington State gun rights supporters that,
    in addition to fighting a massive funding disparity with the
    billionaire-backed sponsors of the initiative, they face an
    uphill battle to have their legitimate concerns about something
    as basic as following the rules addressed.

    Already this year Washington State’s Attorney General Bob
    Ferguson, whose office is charged with the responsibility for
    preparing the ballot title and summary language for each
    initiative, unusually “broke with tradition” to throw his
    support behind I-1639. Shortly before May 9, when his office
    released the proposed ballot title and summary for the
    initiative, he expressed he was “deeply committed to [the
    initiative] and, in general, to having common sense gun reform
    laws in our state,” adding “It’s outrageous what we have, it’s
    deeply disappointing to me that our state Legislature won’t
    address these issues in a forthright manner…” This endorsement
    was cited in one legal challenge objecting to the proposed
    ballot title for I-1639, alleging, among other things, that the
    “Attorney General’s office has created a substantial reasonable
    suspicion in the eyes of the general public that the language
    used in this Concise Description has been drafted for maximum
    bias and support of the sponsors of the initiative by his
    unprecedented and very public statement of support for this
    initiative.” As a result of these several challenges, the ballot
    title was subsequently ordered to be revised by the court.

    Following the August 24th court decision, many in Washington
    State have questioned to what extent any compliance with the
    constitutional provisions governing ballot measures is required.
    One outraged citizen went further, penning an article titled
    “Law is dead in Washington state: I-1639 is inarguably illegal.”

    Washington State residents, and anyone else who is interested in
    more information on I-1639, is encouraged to visit the NRA’s
    website at https://www.initiative1639.org. In the meantime,
    we’ll continue to keep readers updated as more facts surrounding
    this unlawful initiative continue to unfold.

    https://www.nraila.org/articles/20180907/law-is-dead-in- washington-state-outraged-reaction-to-court-decision-on-i-1639

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