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Topic: supreme court

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September 3, 2014 at 5:50 AM

McCleary showdown: Two messages from the Washington Supreme Court

Washington State Supreme Court (Seattle Times Photo/Ken Lambert)

Washington State Supreme Court
(Seattle Times Photo/Ken Lambert)

Latest Times coverage of Wednesday’s McCleary hearing: Court hears arguments in McCleary school-funding case.

As the McCleary case becomes a showdown Wednesday afternoon at the state Temple of Justice, reading the mood of the state Supreme Court isn’t easy.  There seem to be two messages coming from the court of late.

The first message is the tough-talking one the court has sent to the Legislature and the governor’s office, in its formal court orders. The other is unofficial – the kinder, gentler explanation justices have offered as they have met with The Seattle Times editorial board this election season. Washingtonians might hope the latter is true. 

The court is overseeing implementation of its decision in McCleary v. State of Washington, which held that the state needs to beef up spending on K-12 education by the 2017-18 school year. On Jan. 9, at a point when the state is about a quarter of the way to the goal, the court declared lawmakers hadn’t made enough progress, stepped up the schedule and said lawmakers needed to change their procrastinating ways. The court directed them to come up with the rest of the multi-year, multi-billion-dollar plan to fund the K-12 schools, pronto. Lawmakers balked.

So the court issued an equally high-handed order on June 12, demanding that the other two branches answer for their failure in court Wednesday at 2 p.m. Lawmakers are supposed to explain, among other things, why the court should not impose contempt sanctions, impose big fines, order the passage of specific bills, or shut down the school system entirely. This message seems to trample on the idea that the court is just one of three separate and roughly equal branches of government, each of which deserves a bit of leeway to do its job, and requires the respect of the other two.

Justices presented the argument rather differently as they passed through The Seattle Times offices for endorsement interviews. Four are up for election this year. Three of them say they want to remind lawmakers that time is running out — there are only three sessions left — and if hauling the governor and Legislature into court seems a bit harsh, it is the only way they can do it. “I honestly don’t think anybody really wants to see us create a constitutional crisis where the court oversteps its boundaries,” said Justice Mary Yu, who is running for a seat on the court after being appointed earlier this year. 


Comments | Topics: mcleary, supreme court, Washington State Legislature

April 24, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Poll: Do you want Aereo to expand to Seattle?

Aereo’s brush this week with the Supreme Court of the United States is just the latest example of how technology continues to disrupt the status quo. (For background on what happened, read The Associated Press’ news report)

In this photo illustration,, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an MacBook Air, on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Aereo is going head-to-head against ABC, a major television network, in a court case being heard by the Supreme Court. (Photo Illustration by Andrew Burton/Getty Images), a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an MacBook Air, on April 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo Illustration by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


In this case, you have a bunch of broadcasters (led by ABC) who want the justices to shut down Aereo to preserve their business models. Understandable. The start-up charges its subscribers a fee, then provides access to over-the air television programming that is very expensive (for the networks) to produce. Aereo doesn’t pay retransmission fees.

No, what Aereo is doing is probably not right. But it’s innovative, and you can’t fault the company for responding to consumer demands for television that can be viewed on computers and doesn’t cost a fortune every month.

When disruption occurs, it seems regulators are always pressured to crack down on the offenders.


Comments | Topics: aereo, supreme court, television

March 27, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Show your support for same-sex marriage rights with our Facebook profile picture

Big week for same-sex couples and the Supreme Court of the United States, huh? My Facebook feed is blowing up with different versions of the Human Rights Campaign’s signature red “equal” logo. Many of us are changing our profile photos to mark the significance of this week’s arguments over the constitutionality of California’s same-sex…


Comments | Topics: human rights campaign, i do, same-sex marriage