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Guest Opinion: The Supreme Court Elections Matter this Year
posted by: Cindy Omlin | September 21, 2016, 10:51 PM   


matt manwellerFor the first time in 30 years, all the incumbent Washington State Supreme Court justices have a challenger. The reason is simple. The current Supreme Court has handed down a series of poorly reasoned, highly ideological and widely panned decisions regarding school choice, taxation, property rights, domestic abuse and child pornography.

The case that has garnered the most negative attention is League of Women Voters vs. Washington (2015). This was the case the struck down all charter schools in Washington State. The decision, authored by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and signed by Justices Charlie Wiggins and Mary Yu, was highly criticized by legal scholars on both sides of the isle including Ex-Gov Chris Gregiore, acting Attorney General Bob Ferguson and ex-Attorney General Rob McKenna. Adding insult to injury, the Court waited until the day before schools opened before declaring them unconstitutional. The Seattle Times was sharply critical noting “(Madsen’s) stunningly tone-deaf timing caused severe anxiety for students and their families.”

The other case which has raised eyebrows among communities that care about children’s welfare was the inexplicable case of Budd v. Washington (2016). In this case, the Court vacated a conviction for an admitted child pornographer because the “Ferrier” warnings were signed in the abuser’s den instead of his porch. This decision ignored years of precedent and even drew a stinging rebuke from dissenting justices.

Completing the trifecta is the case of Dobbs v. Washington (2014) in which the dissenting opinion authors Justices Wiggins and Madsen argued that a man convicted of domestic abuse should have a new trial because his threats to kill his victim prevented her from coming to the trial. Mr. Dobbs threatened his victim with death if she testify and then followed up by literally driving by her house shooting at her through the window. Needless to say, the threats worked and she did not attend the trial. Wiggins and Madsen argued Mr. Dobbs didn’t get a fair trial.

Fortunately, all three justices have credible challengers this year. A combination of well-qualified candidates with diverse backgrounds are offering voters an option. Long time Federal Way Judge Dave Larson, 22 year Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel and 25 year Gonzaga law professor David DeWolf bring a total of over 60 years of legal experience to the bench. Their diverse backgrounds will bring intellectual diversity to a Court that too often suffers from “groupthink.” As a judge, prosecutor and law professor, we can expect competent decisions on school choice, child welfare and victims rights.

Representative Matt Manweller’s views are his own. As a reminder, NWPE is committed to a non-partisan standard and does not endorse candidates or tell member educators how to vote. We encourage Washington state teachers do their homework on  the merits of all the candidates.

What do you think about Representative Manweller’s opinion?
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