Initiative 6 gets a minor win
Sue Forde, Editor, Citizen Review Online
May 16, 2002 - Clallam County, WA – The State Appeals Court of
Washington has agreed to accept the amicus brief submitted by state
legislators, a county and statewide groups in support of the battle in
the courts of the people’s right to vote on Initiative 6.
Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney Christopher Melley had asked
the court to refuse the brief, submitted on behalf of State
Representatives Jim Buck (R-24th District), Joyce Mulliken
(R-13th District), State Senator Tim Sheldon (D-35th
District); the Washington State Farm Bureau, the Evergreen Freedom
Foundation, and Ferry County. Melly
accused the submitted brief of diverting “the attention of the court
from the issues before it…to a wholly different battleground involving
nothing less than the legitimacy of the Growth Management Act.” The
court reviewed the request, and turned it down, after attorneys Robert
C. Rowley and James J. Klauser offered their reply.
The initiative, which began as a local grassroots attempt to place the
question of repealing the local Critical Areas Code on the ballot for
county voters last year, was short-circuited by two of the three county
commissioners. Led by
Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger (D), the initiative was
thrown into the courts by way of a declaratory judgment, naming private
citizen Bob Forde as the defendant.
The county’s position was that the people couldn’t vote on an
issue that was mandated by a state law (in this case, the Growth
Management Act). The
citizens’ position was that this is a local ordinance – as called
for by the GMA – and that they could repeal it.
initiative battle seems to have taken on a life of its own.
After the locally county-appointed judge (after 3 elected judges
recused themselves from hearing the case) ruled that the citizens of the
county would not be allowed to vote on Initiative 6, despite the wording
in both the home rule charter (county constitution), and the county
code, Forde, who was joined by the BIAW in the fight, asked the State
Supreme Court to hear the case. The
Supremes referred the case back to the appeals court for a hearing, and
that’s where the matter sits now.
Enter the amicus brief. The
county, organizations and state representatives believed enough in the
constitutional right of the citizens to participate in their own
government, that they joined together to help the court understand the
various ramifications. Forde,
who has been defending himself throughout this process (“pro se”),
does not have the legal ability nor expertise to present the
constitutional issues before the court, the brief stated.
More importantly, it urges the court to “comprehensively match
judicial interpretation with constitutional consequences in order to
assure that the ‘GMA revolution’ does not continue to become a
‘Constitutional Revolution’ and an illicit grab of policy-making
power by appointed Growth Boards as well as a divestiture of citizens’
power to control the policy that governs them.”
“This Court must rule and interpret the GMA to
preserve the constitutionally required ‘republican’ form of
representative government and the Separation of Powers,” the amicus
brief concluded. The verbal
arguments will be heard before the Appeals Court sometime in September.
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