OLYMPIA — There has been plenty of tension lately between legislators and the state Supreme Court over the court’s McCleary ruling and contempt order finding lawmakers failing their constitutional duty to amply fund public schools.
Nevertheless, legislators of both parties stood and politely applauded the court’s nine justices Tuesday, when they entered the state House chambers to hear Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State address.
But at least one Republican lawmaker refused to play along with the show of decorum. State Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, sat silently amid his applauding colleagues and looked away while the justices strolled down the House aisle and were escorted to their seats near the dais.
It was an intentional diss. Later Tuesday, in an interview following a House Finance Committee hearing on various tax proposals, Manweller made no secret of his disdain for the court.
“I’m not going to stand in respect for a group of judges who have done so much damage to the Constitution they are supposed to defend,” he said.
When he’s not in Olympia, Manweller is a political science professor at Central Washington University, where he teaches subjects including constitutional law. He said the court has overstepped its authority and trampled the rights of the Legislature with its demands the state come up with billions of dollars in new K-12 funding.
He called the court’s reasoning “ignorant and arrogant.”
The Supreme Court has rejected assertions by state officials that it is overstepping its authority. In a September contempt order, which slammed the Legislature for falling behind its own McCleary funding timeline, the court said in a unanimous decision it could not “stand idly by” while its lawful orders are disregarded.
“To do so would be to abdicate the court’s own duty as a coordinate and independent branch of the government,” the justices wrote.Post corrected to indicate State of the State address was Tuesday, not Monday as the item originally said.