More than half of the House Republican caucus sent a letter to the state Supreme Court earlier this month rebuking the justices for threatening to hold lawmakers in contempt if they don’t put more money into education.
“The court lacks the authority to hold the Legislature in contempt of its decision and we, the undersigned, will not recognize any such order from the court,” the letter, dated Jan. 17, said in part.
“It is our sincere hope that you will not continue to perpetuate a constitutional crisis by insisting on violating the very constitution every member of the court has sworn, by oath, to uphold. It is a crisis in which you will not prevail.”
Republicans in both the Senate and House have complained about the court ordering lawmakers to put more money into education – or else. The justices set an April 30 deadline for the Legislature to come up with a year-by-year plan to meet the court’s requirements.
In a 2012 decision, the court ruled the Legislature was violating the state’s constitution by failing to provide ample funding for public K-12 education. It gave lawmakers until 2018 to adequately fund education. Earlier this month the justices told lawmakers they weren’t moving fast enough.
Republican leaders note lawmakers boosted education by $1 billion last year and say there’s no need to hurry. House Democrats and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee say the Legislature should act this year to put more money into public schools.
The House GOP letter apparently did not reach the justices.
Supreme Court Clerk Ronald Carpenter notified lawyers involved in the case by email that the court had gotten the letter but “because the letter is ex parte in nature, it has not been considered by the members of the court and is placed in the file solely for the purpose of making a record of the event of its receipt.”