Blanket primary attorney seeks high court slot

The Associated Press
4/26/02 6:14 PM

OLYMPIA (AP) -- Jim Johnson, a prominent appellate lawyer best known for
defense of the state's blanket primary system and his work with anti-tax
initiatives, is running for the Washington Supreme Court.

Johnson, a former assistant attorney general under Republican attorneys
general Slade Gorton and Ken Eikenberry, will seek the high court seat
currently held by Justice Charles Z.  Johnson, who is retiring.

"I've been working on important policy issues for something over 25 years
in courts from the Supreme Court here all the way to the U.S.  Supreme
Court," the candidate said Friday.  "I've learned to take cases apart from
both sides."

Johnson represents the Washington State Grange -- the blanket primary's
original sponsor -- in the long-running fight over how the state picks its
general election candidates.

A federal judge recently let Washington's system stand, despite a U.S.
Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that invalidated a similar system in
California.  The state's major political parties announced Thursday that
they will appeal.

Johnson has also been involved in various anti-tax initiative campaigns,
defending some of tax rebel Tim Eyman's efforts and helping write others.
He unsuccessfully defended Initiative 695, the repeal of the state car-tab
tax, from a constitutional challenge.

Eyman employed him to help refine last year's successful Initiative 747, a
successful property tax limitation that is generally considered impervious
to similar challenges.  Before that, he helped with Initiative 601, which
imposed spending and taxation limits on the state in 1993.

Johnson has also been active in American Indian law, mostly defending local
and state governments from tribal claims.

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