League of Educ. Voters, Non-Profit Corp. v. State, 87425–5.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Citation295 P.3d 743,176 Wash.2d 808
Docket NumberNo. 87425–5.,87425–5.
Parties LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS, a Washington non-profit corporation; Washington Education Association, a Washington non-profit corporation; Laurie Jinkins, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; David Frockt, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Senator ; Jamie Pedersen, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Robert Utter, an individual taxpayer and former Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court; Kim Bielski, an individual taxpayer; Andy Bunn, an individual taxpayer; Rebecca Bunn, an individual taxpayer; Reuven Carlyle, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; John Chesbrough, an individual taxpayer; Deb Eddy, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Sam Hunt, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Amy McKenney, an individual taxpayer; Kurt Miller, an individual taxpayer and President of the Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors; Jim Moeller, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Timm Ormsby, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Ryan Painter, an individual taxpayer; Eric Pettigrew, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Chris Reykdal, an individual taxpayer, Washington State Representative and Tumwater School Board Member; Cindy Ryu, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Mike Sells, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; and Kristin Skanderup, an individual taxpayer, Respondents, v. STATE of Washington, Appellant. Christine Gregoire, in her official capacity as Governor of the State of Washington, Respondent.
Decision Date28 February 2013

176 Wash.2d 808
295 P.3d 743

LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS, a Washington non-profit corporation; Washington Education Association, a Washington non-profit corporation; Laurie Jinkins, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; David Frockt, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Senator ; Jamie Pedersen, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Robert Utter, an individual taxpayer and former Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court; Kim Bielski, an individual taxpayer; Andy Bunn, an individual taxpayer; Rebecca Bunn, an individual taxpayer; Reuven Carlyle, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; John Chesbrough, an individual taxpayer; Deb Eddy, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Sam Hunt, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Amy McKenney, an individual taxpayer; Kurt Miller, an individual taxpayer and President of the Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors; Jim Moeller, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Timm Ormsby, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Ryan Painter, an individual taxpayer; Eric Pettigrew, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Chris Reykdal, an individual taxpayer, Washington State Representative and Tumwater School Board Member; Cindy Ryu, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; Mike Sells, an individual taxpayer and Washington State Representative; and Kristin Skanderup, an individual taxpayer, Respondents,
v.
STATE of Washington, Appellant.


Christine Gregoire, in her official capacity as Governor of the State of Washington, Respondent.

No. 87425–5.

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.

Argued Sept. 25, 2012.
Decided Feb. 28, 2013.


295 P.3d 745

Maureen A. Hart, Attorney at Law, Jeffrey Todd Even, Office of The Attorney General, Olympia, WA, Allyson Zipp, NYSERDA, Albany, NY, for Appellant.

Paul J. Lawrence, Matthew J. Segal, Sarah Christine Johnson, Gregory J. Wong, Pacifica Law Group LLP, Michele G. Radosevich, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA, for Respondent.

Kristopher Ian Tefft, Association of Washington Business, Olympia, WA, amicus counsel for Association of Washington Business.

Michael J. Reitz, Attorney at Law, Saginaw Township, MI, amicus counsel for Freedom Foundation.

Harry H. Schneider Jr., Nicholas Manheim, David A. Perez, Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, WA, amicus counsel for League of Women Voters of Washington.

OWENS, J.

176 Wash.2d 812

¶ 1 Before us is a constitutional challenge to two provisions of voter-enacted former RCW 43.135.034 (2011) (Initiative 1053 (I–1053)). The first provision requires that any bill containing a tax increase be passed by a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature (Supermajority Requirement), and the second provision requires that any tax bill increasing spending beyond the state spending limit be approved by the voters (Referendum Requirement). At the outset, we note that our opinion does not reflect whether these provisions embody sound policies. We agree with the dissenting justices that such judgment is reserved for the people and the legislature. However, as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, "[I]f both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, ... the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case." Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177–78, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803). We meet that task today by addressing only whether the challenges to the two provisions are justiciable and whether the challenged provisions violate the Washington Constitution. The King County Superior Court found the challenge to both provisions justiciable and held that the Supermajority Requirement violated article II, section 22 and the Referendum Requirement violated article II, section 1(b). The State appealed, contending this dispute is nonjusticiable and that both provisions of former RCW 43.135.034 are constitutional.

¶ 2 We affirm the trial court in part and reverse in part. We affirm the trial court's decision regarding the justiciability and the constitutionality of the Supermajority Requirement. Article II, section 22 states that "[n]o bill shall

176 Wash.2d 813

become a law unless ... a majority of the members elected to each house" vote in its favor. The plain language,

295 P.3d 746

constitutional history, and weight of persuasive authority support reading this provision as setting both a minimum and a maximum voting requirement. Therefore, the Supermajority Requirement violates article II, section 22 by requiring certain legislation to receive a two-thirds vote. However, we reverse the trial court's decision that the Referendum Requirement presents a justiciable controversy. Because the Referendum Requirement is not justiciable, we make no determination as to its constitutionality.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

¶ 3 In 2010, voters passed I–1053, which is codified at former RCW 43.135.034. LAWS OF 2011, ch. 1, § 2. Former RCW 43.135.034 was another iteration of a long line of initiatives that have established two requirements for certain tax legislation: the Supermajority Requirement and the Referendum Requirement.

¶ 4 A rich litigious history surrounds both the Supermajority Requirement and the Referendum Requirement. These requirements were first imposed by Initiative 601 (I–601), which was approved by the voters in 1993. LAWS OF 1994, ch. 2. Before the initiative went into effect, a group of legislators, public advocacy groups, and citizens sought a writ of mandamus in this court ordering the legislature to prevent I–601's implementation, claiming it was unconstitutional. Walker v. Munro, 124 Wash.2d 402, 406–07, 879 P.2d 920 (1994). The court dismissed the dispute, refusing to use mandamus to compel legislative officers to perform discretionary acts or duties like determining whether I–601 applied to a particular bill. Id. at 410, 879 P.2d 920.

¶ 5 I–601 remained in effect for several years until the legislature suspended it for two years in 2005. Brown v.

176 Wash.2d 814

Owen, 165 Wash.2d 706, 713, 206 P.3d 310 (2009).1 Then in 2007, voters passed Initiative 960 (I–960). Id. I–960, like I–601 before it, contained a Supermajority Requirement and a Referendum Requirement. Id. at 714, 206 P.3d 310. I–960 spawned two separate cases. First, a group of challengers sought to prevent the secretary of state from even placing I–960 on the ballot. Futurewise v. Reed, 161 Wash.2d 407, 408, 166 P.3d 708 (2007). This court dismissed the action as nonjusticiable because the dispute did not fit the narrow requirements for challenging initiatives preelection. Id. at 415, 166 P.3d 708. The second case arose postenactment. There, a state senator sought a writ of mandamus in this court to force the senate president to forward a tax bill to the house of representatives that received only a simple majority in the senate. Brown, 165 Wash.2d at 711, 716, 206 P.3d 310. The court again did not address the constitutionality of the Supermajority Requirement because the case raised a nonjusticiable political question. Id. at 727, 206 P.3d 310.

¶ 6 The legislature suspended I–960 after two years, just as it had suspended I–601. LAWS OF 2010, ch. 4. Knowing such a suspension was a possibility, voters passed I–1053 in 2010, which again contained the Supermajority Requirement and the Referendum Requirement and prevented the legislature from suspending the requirements for another two years. Sponsors also filed Initiative 1185 (I–1185) for the 2012 ballot, which again contained these two requirements. LAWS OF 2013, ch. 1. Voters passed I–1185.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 7 In July 2011, respondents—the League of Education Voters (LEV), Washington Education Association, 12 individual legislators, and numerous individual taxpayers (hereinafter collectively referred to as "LEV" unless otherwise

176 Wash.2d 815

noted)—filed a complaint in King County Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the Supermajority Requirement and Referendum Requirement violated article II, section 22 and article II, section 1(b) of the Washington Constitution. LEV filed its complaint only after the attorney general refused to challenge the constitutionality of former RCW 43.135.034.

295 P.3d 747

¶ 8 The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment in January 2012, and Governor Gregoire filed a brief requesting a decision on the merits, although she expressed no view on the merits of the dispute. After oral argument, the trial court granted LEV's motion for summary judgment, holding that (1) the dispute was justiciable; (2) the dispute constituted a matter of great public importance; (3) article II, section 22 prohibited the Supermajority Requirement; and (4) article II, section 1(b) prohibited the Referendum Requirement.

¶ 9 The State then appealed directly to this court. We accepted direct review.

ISSUES

¶ 10 1. Are the constitutional challenges to the Supermajority Requirement and the...

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