Are courts over-stepping boundaries for political gain?

January 31st, 2014 by Ken

There’s a constitutional crisis which is just about to make itself felt here in Washington State, but it’s not unique to us alone.

The question is very simple.  Where is the dividing line between the judicial and the legislative branches of our government?

The question centers around funding for education.

All around the country – – in state after state – – teacher’s unions have brought suit against their state legislatures.   In Kansas, in Kentucky, in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wyoming and Washington – – state courts have ordered their state legislatures to provide more funding for education.

So far, none of the legislatures have refused to comply with their respective state supreme courts, but as the courts be get more and more involved in the actual details of the spending  – – the question arises – – where is the line between judicial activism and legislative prerogative.

In our state, we spend more than $14 billion dollars each year for education.  That amount is proposed to increase by another billion dollars this year.  Supporters of more money for education thank an additional $6 billion is necessary.

The Washington State Supreme Court has agreed that more money in needed.  It has ordered the State Legislature to find more money and has given it specific targets to meet.   The Legislature must have the plan in place by April.

The court’s order has rankled some legislators who question the court’s ability to define specific funding goals – saying that is the prerogative of the legislature.

But – – failure to obey the court’s order could result in a contempt of court charge.  From then on it’s anybody’s idea of what happens next.

No state supreme court has every held its legislature in contempt.

In 2009, the United State’s Supreme Court put some restrictions and what state courts could do in regards to legislative actions.  This sets up the conflict.

Whatever happens, our state legislature will continue to find new money for education – – particularly in an election year when they need the support of the teacher’s union to get re-elected.

Our supreme court will have to make a decision.  Will it continue to micro-manage its order to find more money for education – – or will it back off to avoid a constitutional conflict which it could lose.

The ball is  in the state supreme court.  They’re the ones forcing a constitutional  crisis for political gains.  Remember, they too have to seek re-election and the teacher’s union is the most powerful lobbying group in the state.



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

(comments are closed).