The Seattle Times has an editorial decrying the political ploys involved in Rob McKenna adding his name to the anti-health care reform lawsuit. Not McKenna signing up for a lawsuit that would overturn the entire law and claiming he’s only opposed to one part. Not McKenna going against the specific wishes of Governor Gregoire. No, the people who are writing a law that says the AG’s office has to have a client are the people engaging in a political ploy.
FOUR liberal Democrats in the state Senate have introduced a bill to strip the state attorney general’s power to challenge a law. Their proposal is blatantly political and would damage the balance of power in Olympia.
The senators are Adam Kline and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, both of Seattle, Karen Keiser of Kent and Karen Fraser of Olympia. Senate Bill 6286 would allow the attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of a law only at the request of “the state officer with authority over the subject matter” — most likely the governor.
You know, the other day when Mike McGinn called The Seattle Times conservative, some of their reporters had their feefees hurt.* Might I suggest if you don’t want people pointing out how conservative your paper is, your paper might not want to take so many conservative positions (although in fairness, they’re much more pro-status quo and corporate power than they are pro one party over the other, that just generally coincides with conservatives). If you don’t want to be considered conservative, you might not want to have your editorial board use liberal as an insult. You might not want to have it go to the mattresses for a conservative attorney general.
Anyway, to the substance: Yes, this is a response to an out of control AG acting against the wishes of the governor. They’re responding to a blatantly political act by McKenna. Why doesn’t The Seattle Times condemn that?
Clearly this bill targets Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, who joined a lawsuit against the Obama health-insurance law despite the opposition of Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat. McKenna is running for her job, and these four senators don’t want him to have it.
Maybe he should have thought of that before he decided to try to use his office to unilaterally overturn a law that will benefit large numbers of Washingtonians for political reasons. In any event, some day The Seattle Times Ed. Board can explore how attempting to have 5 conservative justices overturn one of Obama’s signature issues has nothing to do with politics. But here’s the part that really got me:
They are free to campaign against him and to make issue of him putting the state’s name to a lawsuit led by the attorney general of Florida. But it is wrong to take away McKenna’s power and the power of future attorneys general, Republican or Democrat.
Wrong? Wrong! It’s wrong for legislators? To try to legislate?!??!
The Seattle Times doesn’t seem to understand the basics of our separation of powers. If members of the legislature feel the law could be improved, they are quite free to change the law (even for political reasons, they are politicians). If they feel a member of the executive branch is getting too powerful or is abusing the power given it by past legislatures, they have a duty to try to reign them in. Disagree with them if you like, but don’t pretend that legislators legislating is somehow underhanded.
* Brunner is generally a solid reporter, but this insistence that The Mercer Island Mutt Murderer somehow defines the center is laughable.