Courts stop citizen initiatives

March 12th, 2012 by Ken

It’s a question as old as democracy. Who really controls the government? Is it those who are elected, or the people who have elected them?

A recent decision by the Washington State Supreme Court seems to imply that our elected officials are not answerable to the people who elect them.

The decision has to do with red light cameras.

Voters in Mukilteo voted by more than 70 percent to ban red light cameras in their city. The initiative was run by none other than Tim Eyman, who lives in Mukilteo. The success of the initiative was so over-whelming that initiatives in other cities were underway to ban red light cameras in those cities.

Then, a pro-government group in Mukilteo appealed the citizen’s initiative to the courts saying the legislature gave the authority to the city government and not to the people. Sure enough, the Washington State Supreme Court, on a 5-4 ruling agreed. The people had no right to overturn red light cameras.

There must be some rationale behind the court’s ruling because it has no basis in the state constitution. The right of the people to over rule their government is built in with the right of initiative and referendum. The language is clear.

There must be some reason the court ruled as it did. But, I suspect they just don’t like Tim Eyman and his efforts to rein in government spending. After all, the court is a government agency and has been hit hard by financial cutbacks brought about by Eyman’s Initiative 1053.

I hope that’s not the case, but it appears the justices haven’t read the state constitution or they wouldn’t have taken away the people’s right to run their own government.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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