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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: Washington State Supreme Court

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April 10, 2014 at 6:27 AM

Three newspapers: Appoint an Eastern Washington justice, Gov. Jay Inslee

Justice Jim Johnson With the retirement of state Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson for health reasons, Gov. Jay Inslee will have the opportunity to appoint a justice to the nine-member panel. The Spokesman-Review and the Yakima Herald-Republic have joined The Seattle Times in encouraging the governor to look East of the Cascades for his choice. Johnson has…


Comments | Topics: Jay Inslee, law, Washington State Supreme Court

November 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Civil Disagreement: Washington Supreme Court on gun rights for an accused shooter

Civil Disagreement is an occasional feature of the Seattle Times Editorial Page. Here editorial writers Lynne K. Varner and Bruce Ramsey come down on opposite sides of a recent Washington Supreme Court ruling supporting state law forbidding guns to persons arrested for, but not yet convicted of, a gun crime.


Comments | More in Civil Disagreement, Pro/con | Topics: crime, gun control, gun rights lobby

October 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Am I my purse? The state Supreme Court thinks so

I greet with some consternation the Washington Supreme Court ruling that police officers’ license to search people extends to their purse, even if the purse is not on their person but nearby. Long story short. Police arrested a woman in 2009 who was a passenger in a car with stolen license plates.  The officer handcuffed her and placed her in the back of the…


Comments | Topics: Meth, washington, Washington State Supreme Court

June 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Supreme Court DOMA ruling shows what Washington court got wrong

Just seven years ago, the Washington Supreme Court gave great deference to the state Legislature’s right to discriminate against same-sex marriage.

In the 2006 Anderson v. King County ruling upholding the state Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) didn’t violate couples’ rights to equal protection because those couples couldn’t show they required “favored minority class” status. Because of this flawed framing, it gave overly broad leeway for the Legislature to enable discrimination. Moreover, the ruling validated the Legislature’s authority to obsess over opposite-sex procreation. According to the Anderson ruling:

That is, the legislature was entitled to believe that providing that only opposite-sex couples may marry will encourage procreation and child-rearing in a “traditional” nuclear family where children tend to thrive.

Today, the supposedly more conservative U.S. Supreme Court flipped that argument on its head in U.S. v. Windsor. In its majority opinion, the court said:

DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group… DOMA cannot survive under these principles.

Justice Anthony Kennedy rightly peeled back the discriminatory intent of the federal DOMA (and its offspring, like Washington’s DOMA).

DOMA’s avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States. DOMA’s history of enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages… was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.

It was particularly refreshing to  see Kennedy confront the contention that children are somehow inherently harmed by parentage by loving same-same couples, a bugaboo of same-sex proponents and an argument advanced by our state Supreme Court.


Comments | Topics: ido74, referendum 74, same-sex marriage

April 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Pacific Mayor Cy Sun and Washington’s dodo hall of recall fame

It’s really, really hard to recall an elected official in Washington. The gold standard of recall-worthy idiocy was Dexter Amend, the doddering elected coroner of Spokane County while I worked at the Spokesman-Review in the mid-1990s. He was hit with a recall petition, as described in a Seattle Times news report, asking if an 11-year-old boy had been masturbating before he was burned to death and focusing an autopsy on the “rectal region” of a man who died of AIDS. The man was obsessed with homosexuality, an ideologue and loon. The county racked up claim after claim. Reporters consider him a joke. But, like most recall petitions, that one got tossed out, according to another Times news story.

So did less worthy recall petitions against then-City Council president Richard Conlin (Seattle Times news story), ex-Secretary of State Sam Reed (Seattle Times story) and the mayor of Coulee (AP story). It took a scandal the size of Spokane Mayor Jim West to get a recall petition on the ballot. (Here is the Times story on that.)

Cy Sun / KING-5 TVAnd now, we have Cy Sun, the mayor of tiny Pacific, which straddles the boundary between King and Pierce counties. The state Supreme Court this week sent Sun to face a recall election, likely ending his brief tenure as the area’s most erratic mayor.

Sun, elected as a write-in in 2011, has driven Pacific to the brink of bankruptcy by firing or provoking resignation from most of the city department heads, including three police chiefs in quick succession. The city lost its insurance, faces millions in legal claims (including a new one brought just this week by a group of fired police officers), and was on the brink of dissolution last year.


Comments | Topics: City of Pacific, Washington State Supreme Court