Taking Eyman to Court: Lawmakers to File a Lawsuit Today Challenging the Constitutionality of the 2/3 Majority Requirement
I told you this might be coming back in May
, and today it arrives: A lawsuit, to be filed in King County Superior Court later this morning and eventually headed for the Washington State Supreme Court, that says Tim Eyman's recent initiatives are unconstitutional.
Specifically, it says that because of multiple Eyman initiatives over the years, the voting requirement for approving tax increases in the Washington State Legislature has been unconstitutionally changed from a simple majority of both houses to a 2/3 majority of both houses.
Eyman's not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which will be filed by a group of state legislators, education advocates, taxpayers, and even a former state supreme court chief justice. Instead, the formal defendant is the State of Washington. But it's clearly aimed at Eyman's initiatives, which, the lawsuit says, "have imposed unconstitutional restrictions on our State’s ability to fund essential public services."
The idea is that voting thresholds in the state legislature—like requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes—must be set by the state constitution, not by passing an initiative. “Our hope is to wipe out permanently this idea that by initiative you could change the constitutional requirement of 50 votes in the house and 25 in the senate to pass legislation," says Jamie Pedersen, one of a dozen legislators signed on as plaintiffs in the suit.
The stakes are high, he added, pointing out that Eyman's initiatives "have really hampered our requirement to do our consitutional duties. We can’t fund education the way we should, the justice system, the safety net—all the things that we are supposed to do, we can’t do adequately.”
Don't expect this to be resolved by the courts before the next legislative session, though. If it indeed ends up at the Washington State Supreme Court, the soonest one might reasonably expect it to be decided is the legislative session after this next one.