For five bucks and an idea, anyone can file an Initiative to the People – and they do. Most are very serious, while others can be kooky or simply send a message.
We’ve run across one that goes away from the beaten path: It’s a plan to change the prim-and-proper Great Seal of Washington. As proposed by James Vaughn of Orting, General George Washington and the year of admission to the union, 1889, would be replaced with, uh, a few subtle changes.
In the words of the initiative, the seal would feature “a tapeworm dressed in a three-piece suit“ attached to the taxpayer.
The rest of the initiative includes recitations on Washington’s tax system, and says “We do not think that changing our state seal to reflect our government is FUNNY.” There you have it.
If you want to track all initiatives that are filed, or to get some history on what ideas have been proposed, and what happened to them over the past almost century, visit here.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it will decide on January 15, 2010, whether to accept or reject the appeal of last fall’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld Washington State’s practice of treating ballot measure petitions as releasable public records.
The high court will meet on the 15th to review several cases, voting on each whether to accept or reject. The court likely will announce later that day or the following Monday if it will take the R-71 petition case. If the court declines to take the case, the 9th Circuit Court’s decision will stand. If the court accepts the case, it will likely be argued in April, with a decision to be handed down by the end of June. There also is a state court injunction entered by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks that also prevents the release of the R-71 petitions. The case in front of Judge Hicks is stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s action. (more…)
The Washington Attorney General is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to turn aside a request to block the state from releasing Referendum 71 petitions.
On Jan. 8, the high court is expected to consider a request from R-71 opponents to hear their challenge of an appeals court decision that upheld the state’s practice of treating petitions as releasable public records. We should know shortly thereafter whether the court will take the case. The earliest it could get on the calendar probably is late April. The state Elections Division, backed by the Attorney General, says the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act requires release of all public documents for which there is no exemption. The Legislature has never exempted petitions. (more…)
The continuing court battle by foes of Referendum 71 to shield their petitions from public view stepped up a notch Friday with filing of papers formally outlining the reasons why they want the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case and uphold a disclosure ban.
A 30-second recap: In September, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma agreed to Protect Marriage Washington’s request to block the Secretary of State from the scheduled release of over 9,000 R-71 petition sheets in response to public records requests. In October, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Settle and said the state could release the records. A state judge, acting in a parallel case brought by initiative activist Tim Eyman, froze release of all petitions while litigation was afoot.
Protect Marriage Washington asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put the 9th Circuit decision on hold while a request for a high court review was drafted. The justices said fine. On Friday, the official paperwork was filed with all of their reasoning spelled out. (more…)
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to continue blocking, at least temporarily, Washington State from releasing Referendum 71 petitions under the state’s Public Records Act.
The high court, ruling in a request by Justice Anthony Kennedy, agreed to keep in place Kennedy’s order that bans release of the documents while appeals are being sought. The court thus suspends the ruling last Thursday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the R-71 documents are releasable. That means that, at least for now, the restraining order imposed on the Secretary of State last month by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle will remain in place while appeals are pursued.
The high court order said if it decides not to hear the appeal from Project Marriage Washington, the ban will “terminate automatically” and the 9th Circuit ruling will stand, meaning the petitions could be released then. If the Supreme Court takes the case, then the stay will remain in effect until the justices render a decisi0n. (more…)
Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court has at least temporarily blocked release of petitions in support of putting Referendum 71 on the statewide ballot.
Kennedy, in a one-page order, agreed with the request of Protect Marriage Washington to “stay” or freeze, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last Thursday that had cleared the way for releasing the petitions under terms of the state’s broad public disclosure law. In so doing, Kennedy let stand the order of U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle, who ruled in Tacoma last month against the scheduled release of the petitions by the Secretary of State.
Kennedy said his order remains in effect until further order of himself or the full high court. His ruling also would appear to dispose of the state’s request of Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks that the state be allowed to release the R-71 petitions to reflect the 9th Circuit’s ruling.
Kennedy’s ruling preserves the status quo — nondisclosure — while he reviews the matter and gives disclosure foes a chance to pursue their appeal.
(UPDATE: This blog was updated 10-16-09 at 4:58 p.m.)
Although the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given the green light for releasing Referendum 71 petition sheets under terms of the state’s Public Records Act, it’s not quite that simple. Both state and federal courts are still involved and it will be at least a few more days until we know if the petitions can be released.
The Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the Secretary of State, says:
1. The “John Does” and Protect Marriage Washington have asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision to overturn U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle’s decision last month to block release of the petitions. Protect Marriage Washington gained a ballot spot for R-71, which asks voters to either approve or reject the state’s new domestic-partnership legislation. Reconsideration, or a hearing by the full circuit bench, is seldom granted. (more…)
Katie Blinn, assistant state elections director, wraps up in a new narrative the background history on why the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office, treats initiative and referendum petitions as releasable public records.
Blinn, an attorney and former legislative committee counsel, traces the litigation in state and federal court and recounts the history of petition sheets that have been released in prior years – and those that await the green light from the courts.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has just lifted the ban on Washington releasing Referendum 71 petitions.
A three-judge panel handed a clear victory to the Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna, who had vigorously argued that the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act requires the state to treat initiative and referendum petition sheets as a releasable public record.
The court, in a brief three-page order released from Pasadena, Calif., said it is reversing Tacoma-based U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle, who ruled last month that the referendum sheets are “anonymous political speech” protected by the Constitution and that release would be wrong. (more…)
Should Washington officials be allowed to release Referendum 71 petition sheets? That touchy issue is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., following a hearing this morning.
Deputy Solicitor General Bill Collins, who represented the state, reported a very well-prepared panel and a “very lively” discussion of the issues. He said the court has taken the case under advisement without indicating when – or how – they will rule.
Since the appeals court has the case on a fast track and voting has actually begun in Washington, state election officials expect the court to issue an order pretty quickly, maybe even later today. (more…)