Secretary of State has no business commenting on measure’s constitutionality

On Friday, Slog reported that an income tax initiative had been filed, prompting the following commentary from the Secretary of State’s office:

“You cannot have a graduated state income tax without amending the state constitution. The court has been clear on that,” says Dave Ammons, spokesman for the Secretary of State.

To which I have two main responses. First, the Washington State Supreme Court last explicitly ruled on this issue way back in 1933; our current slate of Supreme Court justices have never addressed this issue, and as the precedent flouting majority on the U.S. Supreme Court recently demonstrated, the opinions of the current justices are the only ones that matter. Second — and I mean this with all due respect to Dave Ammons, Secretary of State Sam Reed and the rest his office — it’s none of their fucking business.

To elaborate on my second point first, up until the moment the petitions are filed, the Secretary of State’s role in the initiative process is purely administrative, and even then the grounds for rejecting petitions are quite limited, so I can’t help but wonder why Ammons would comment on the measure’s constitutionality at all? I don’t remember Reed’s office commenting on the constitutionality of any of Tim Eyman’s initiatives. Hell, I’ve seen the SOS quietly process initiatives that don’t even amount to a complete sentence.

So while I’ve no doubt that Reed personally opposes an income tax, his office has no business nor expertise in commenting on its constitutionality.

Which brings us back to my first point, the constitutional question itself. I’ve written extensively on this subject, most recently highlighting this excerpt from the Washington State Tax Structure Committee report:

[T]here is ample reason to believe that a modern income tax, established by the Legislature or by the voters, would now be upheld. The basic reason is that [Culliton v. Chase] was based on an earlier Washington case which the State Supreme Court clearly misread. More importantly, the earlier case was based on a line of United States Supreme Court cases that have subsequently been reversed. Our Court would likely take a “clean slate” approach to the income tax today.

See that? Courts sometimes overturn earlier decisions, both old and new. Indeed, the SCOTUS just overturned a century of precedent on campaign finance law — precedent it had upheld as recently as seven years ago — so it’s kinda silly to dismiss a state income tax as patently unconstitutional based on a 77-year-old 5-4 decision that has left Washington with a legal definition of “income” that is at odds with virtually every other court in the nation, state and federal.

Furthermore, if you read the text of the proposed initiative, it becomes instantly clear that the authors have bent over backwards to accommodate the bizarre semantics that constitute our state’s current legal framework on the subject — one which, for example, allows the state to levy a nonuniform business tax on gross revenue, but not on net revenue (i.e., income). Aping the language of our existing Business & Occupation tax, the measure attempts to levy a 5% “excise tax” on joint adjusted gross incomes over $400,000 a year (9% on the portion over $1 million), while simulating exemptions by redefining the tax otherwise due as a “credit.”

Split hairs all you want, but it’s hard to understand how a reasonable person could define gross personal income as property but gross business income as not. That’s a distinction without a difference that could just as easily give today’s court the grounds to invalidate our existing B&O tax as it would the income tax this initiative proposes.

But all that is neither here nor there. The Secretary of State’s job at the moment is merely to assign the initiative a number, and transmit it back and forth between the sponsor, the Code Reviser and the Attorney General. If petitions are ultimately filed, his job will be to count and verify the signatures, and if the signature threshold is met, his next and final task will be to assure that the initiative properly appears on the ballot. At no point is the question of the measure’s constitutionality of any official concern to the Secretary of State or his spokesman.

As for the Attorney General, his job would be to defend the measure in court should it ultimately pass and be challenged, thus any effort on his part to publicly question the initiative’s constitutionality would present a conflict of interest that could undermine his ability fulfill his own office’s constitutional duties.

Indeed, as I’ve previously written, the whole constitutional question is a red herring intended to quash public debate on this very important issue. And that is the context within which Ammons’ comment should be understood.

Comments

  1. 1

    Max Rockatansky spews:

    Isnt something pertaining to the the state’s constitution ALL OF OUR BUSINESS?

    Somehow you think the states constitution is more your business than an it is Sam Reed’s?

    Thinking a bit much of yourself for a rather irrelevant blogger, arent you?

    go back to the east coast.

  2. 2

    Chris Stefan spews:

    @1
    Well funny thing is the Secretary of State’s office has quietly processed any number of blatantly unconstitutional initiatives from say Tim Eyman. Why all of a sudden does the Secretary of State’s office feel the need to comment on an income tax initiative?

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Citizens have every right to pass this initiative and litigate its constitutionality in the state’s courts.

  4. 4

    zip spews:

    Goldy,
    The democrats have solid decades-long control of this state, yet you and your gang of progressives must resort to an initiative to ram an income tax through? You guys are pathetic…apparently you’ve all been voting for, and kissing butt of, the wrong democrats for the past few decades.

    It is impressive to see how worked up you get over raising other people’s taxes. Knock yourself out, an income tax will hurt the state if enacted in this manner or if styled after the Oregon tax increase.

    And before all you idiots flame me, remember I supported the Ron Sims tax proposal, which included an income tax.

  5. 5

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Goldy–
    True that the SOS has no power re: Constitutionality of an Initiative….and should not comment.
    However, Constitutionality is a factor for voters to consider upfront. Voters blindly passing it and then litigating is both costly and time-consuming….especially when considering the previous Supreme Court decision.

    Clearly the Unions & Democrats are “mining” for more tax dollars to attempt to raise revenues to the pre-Recession levels. Is that fair? So everytime we have an economic boom…is that the new benchmark for future tax revenue? That makes no sense. Gregoire, the Unions & Democrats pushed unsustainable Budgets the past 5 years. Gregoire repeatedly admitted it…but did it anyway as she is beholding to the Unions. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

    This will be an interesting battle.
    Voters will have to sort out the rhetoric.
    Democrat/Union tax increase proponents have identified the reason for major tax increases is Education & Criminal Justice.

    Those opposed will likely single out excessive government wages/benefits/paid time-off and other specific programs started or inflated the past 5 years.

    Democrat/Unions will play the Class Warfare card by at first taxing “rich folks” with no consideration for the impact of that.
    Opponents will point out that the current Total Compensation of State Union Employees is excessive, we have too many Programs, to much bureaucracy and that Gregoire and the Democrat/Unions have done nothing to rein in spending to pre-boom levels.

    Hey Goldy, it could pass. It is proven that the easiest thing to do is to tax other people. However, some folks of modest means understand that we have an unsustainable number of State Union jobs and excessive compensation/benefits/paid time-off and that creating a Rich Guy tax will cost private sector investment & jobs.

    I would hope at the same time we have a Right to Work Initiative…to allow voters the opportunity to rein in the Unions.

    Let’s get it all on the table.

  6. 7

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    6. I Got Nuthin’ (and would rather take handouts from the government & others than work and sacrifice) spews:

    Outstanding post Goldie. Right on the money.

  7. 8

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Goldy–
    Looks like Obam-Mao has billions in his record-setting deficit spending Budget for good leftist states like Washington!…in case the Union/Democrats cannot fleece the private sector for even more.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politic.....on-budget/

    So Obam-Mao makes “fiscal responsibility” speeches…then proposes a Budget with a record Deficit??!
    Obam-Mao is one funny KLOWN!
    But we must take Obam-Mao seriously and support Obam-Mao no matter what??

    Wrong.
    Folks are tired of his rhetoric and empty speeches that are followed up by contradictory actions.

  8. 9

    Max Rockatansky spews:

    In goldy’s world:

    citizens initiative process BAD lowering taxes

    citizens initiative process GOOD for raising taxes

    you have to start to wonder about some people’s state of mind when all they do is advocate for the taking of money from the citizens and handing it over to the state, week after week.

  9. 10

    sarah68 spews:

    The comment by the spokesperson may be inappropriate but that doesn’t make it either true or untrue. If indeed the court issued that opinion, There’s no factual reason to claim that an opinion rendered in the past by the State Supreme Court is ineffectual just because it’s “old.” Opinions don’t need to be re-upped to continue being law. If you want to get around that opinion, bring another lower court case to the Supremes or try for a legislative work-around.

  10. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 “apparently you’ve all been voting for, and kissing butt of, the wrong democrats for the past few decades”

    While I agree with your characterization of this state’s Democratic electeds — they’re bought-and-paid-for big-business shills (see, e.g., $3 billion gift to a departed aerospace firm) — what choice did we mere rodents have? Vote for Republicans?*

    * You know, the nuts who brandish guns in the Senate chamber and abuse their own staffers so badly they get kicked out of their own party caucus?

  11. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 “Isnt something pertaining to the the state’s constitution ALL OF OUR BUSINESS?”

    Yes and no. It’s the citizens’ business, but when Ammons speaks for Reed, and Reed acts in his official capacity as the state’s elections chief, Reed has no goddamned business comenting on the legal merits of an initiative on a ballot he’s responsible for counting.

    “Somehow you think the states constitution is more your business than an it is Sam Reed’s?”

    Interpreting the state constitution is none of your business, and none of Sam Reed’s business, either. Only the state supreme court gets to interpret the state constitution, and the rest of us are bound by its interpretation. That includes you and Reed.

    “Thinking a bit much of yourself for a rather irrelevant blogger, arent you?”

    Far from being irrelevant, Goldy is the most cogent and informed political blogger in Washington state, and he has far more influence on political thought and discussion in this state than you do. Of course, there’s a very easy hurdle …

    “go back to the east coast”

    No, you crawl back under your rock first; this is his blog, and he was here first.

  12. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 “Is that fair?”

    When the hell have you ever worried about whether Washington’s taxes are fair?

  13. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 “Folks are tired of his rhetoric and empty speeches that are followed up by contradictory actions.”

    Okay, The Economist agrees with you — they’ve concluded Obama says one thing and does another — and even I’ll buy this argument. Which gets us where? Vote for Palin in 2012? The GOP and the howling mob that comprises its grassroots support are a fucking joke. Until you’ve got a viable alternative to President Prevaricator (Version 44.0), write your complaint here [ ] and send it here _.

  14. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 “citizens initiative process BAD lowering taxes”

    The laughable thing is we haven’t had any taxes lowered by initiatives, because Timmy Idiot still doesn’t know how to write one that doesn’t contain two or more subjects.

  15. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @10 “If you want to get around that opinion, bring another lower court case to the Supremes or try for a legislative work-around.”

    Uh yeah, the way we do that sweetie is by getting an initiative on the ballot and persuading voters to pass it, because the court doesn’t render opinions on theoretical questions.

  16. 17

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Rog–
    Vote for Paul Ryan (R-WI) in 2012.
    I’ve been very impressed with Ryan’s willingness to actually read and understand Bills, his demeanor and honesty.
    I know, I know…he’s a Conservative.
    But the kind of guy Obama will really struggle with trying to defend the Porkulous, Health Care, Deficit Spending etc.

    Palin will not run in 2012.
    She is having a lot of influence & success doing what she is doing.
    I think you will See Paul Ryan come out of nowhere…like Obama did.
    Time will tell.

  17. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @17 I would consider voting for an honest conservative, but not some idiot who thinks the solution to our problems is more tax cuts for the rich and privatizing Medicare.

  18. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @17 “Palin will not run in 2012. She is having a lot of influence & success doing what she is doing.”

    If you mean making money hand-over-fist, it’s been clear for a long time that’s where her and her husband’s values are at.

  19. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I agree Palin won’t run in 2012. She’s got way too lucrative a thing going to give it up for the mere presidency, even if she could get elected. Palin is merely the latest in a long string of marketers to come along with the objective of relieving teabaggers of their cash.

  20. 22

    RUFUS spews:

    You Washington state liberals are just jealous of all your out of state cousins who cheat on their state taxes. Why should they have all the fun?

  21. 23

    RUFUS spews:

    The problem with Washington State is the same with every liberal run guvmint which is too much spending. Not only that but the way they spend the money makes the problems they try to solve even worse (poverty, education, healthcare ect). We would be better off not spending the money in the first place or at least contracting out to the private sector. An income tax would like giving more fuel to an arsonist.

  22. 24

    spews:

    RUFUS:

    You Washington state liberals are just jealous of all your out of state cousins who cheat on their state taxes. Why should they have all the fun?

    Bill Sizemore, the most prominent state tax evader in Oregon is a “cousin” of Eyman. Not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination.

    Except that, unlike that wimp Timmy, Cousin Bill has enough courage of his convictions (the “moral” ones, not the ones he’s earned for misdemeanors and felonies) to actually run for office.

  23. 25

    proud leftist spews:

    Cyn @ 17
    Isn’t one of the major complaints your ilk has against Obama his supposed lack of experience? I mean I hear that all the time from your pundits.
    But, um, how much experience does Paul Ryan have that would qualify him for the presidency?

  24. 26

    RUFUS spews:

    Bill Sizemore, the most prominent state tax evader in Oregon is a “cousin” of Eyman. Not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination.

    Wow. Yeah he is a household name.

    Timothy Gietner
    Tom Dashle
    Carol Moseley-Braun

    All very prominant democats who have evaded state and federal taxes and you barely hear a peep out of the MSM. I guess it is expected from democrats.

  25. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @23 You guys ran the federal government for most of that last 3 decades. Why didn’t you cut spending when you had the chance? Spending increased 3 times as fast under Chimpface as it did under Clinton — so much for Gooper “fiscal responsibility.”

  26. 28

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Abortion Foes ‘Angry’ At Roeder Conviction

    The Associated Press reports that Donald Spitz, who runs a website advocating violence against abortion providers, says Scott Roeder’s murder conviction has “upset” anti-abortion militants who view Roeder as a “hero” and that “everybody is pretty angry.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35.....nd_courts/

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: These people are terrorists, period! Why are we screwing around with trials? Fly them out of the country and hold them in detention camps in some third-world hellhole until they rot, like Bush did.

  27. 29

    RUFUS spews:

    23 You guys ran the federal government for most of that last 3 decades. Why didn’t you cut spending when you had the chance? Spending increased 3 times as fast under Chimpface as it did under Clinton — so much for Gooper “fiscal responsibility.”

    Your right. We had wimps who wanted to compromise with tax and spend liberals. Thank God most of those RINOs are gone so we can start fresh come 2012. Now we will have license to ram our agenda through in the same way Obama tried and failed with healthcare. Of course there will be one main difference, the American people will want our reforms.

  28. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @29 “start fresh come 2012″

    Start fresh with who? Borrow-and-spend Republicans who blame Democrats for the trillions they put us in hock to China for? Sure glad I don’t live in Taiwan.

  29. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Steal a loaf of bread, you’re a thief. Steal billions, you’re a businessman.

    “Tishman Speyer Properties walks away from 11,232 Manhattan apartments because it can’t pay its mortgage. That’s good business.

    “Rick Gilson, a college custodial supervisor in South Dakota, wants to walk away from the mortgage on his mobile home. If he does, he’ll be a deadbeat.

    “Those two borrowers face the same financial dilemma: Their mortgages far exceed the values of their properties. Yet one gets to walk away … while the other can’t. …

    “Gilson is frustrated that real-estate tycoons can default on a $4.4 billion mortgage, but he’s not supposed to do the same on his $31,000 loan.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35.....al_estate/

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: There have always been two sets of rules. The shelf full of encyclopedic rules applies to most of us. For the rich there’s only one rule: They can do whatever they want and nobody will do anything to them.

  30. 32

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The $4.4 billion is owed to MetLife, an insurance company. Guess who’s going to pay? Their policyholders. Now you know why your insurance premiums are so damn high.

  31. 33

    RUFUS spews:

    Borrow-and-spend Republicans who blame Democrats for the trillions

    Like the brilliant trillion $ stimulus which raised unemployment from 7% to 10% which did absolutely nothing for the economy? Which repub voted for that colosal failure?? Oh that is right, none!

  32. 34

    proud leftist spews:

    RR @ 31
    As you know, if you listen to our trolls, Christ would have wanted it this way–you know that a filthy rich landlord can walk away from a mortgage, but some poor bastard with nothing but a mobile home cannot walk away from his mortgage. Isn’t that just what Christ would have ordained?

  33. 35

    RUFUS spews:

    Official count of jobs saved and created from the stimulus:

    Governor of NJ job- Christie
    Governor of Virginia – McDonald
    Senator – Scott Brown- Saved Ted Kennedy’s seat, may he rest in peace

    and coming soon the house of representatives and possibly the Senate.

    I guess as far as jobs saved it wasn’t a total waste. ahahahahahaha

  34. 36

    righton spews:

    why the rush to more taxes goldy? its regressive in the midst of a deep recession, and foolish as well.
    \

  35. 38

    Mathew "RennDawg" Renner spews:

    I cannot believe I a agree with Goldy. You are right it is not the job of the Secretary of State to make statements about weither an iniative in Constitutional. That is for the courts to decide. There job, in this case, is to make sure that the people who want to put the iniative on the ballot are following the rules.

    Altho I disagree that a ruling from 1933 is worthless because it has not been reviewd by our current court. Do you want every new court to review every decision made by previous courts. It does not matter when a ruling came down it is the law until changed. I have no problem for those who oppose the current tax system to ask the courts to review it, but we need to follow the law as it stands.

  36. 39

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    N Farts

    Bill Sizemore, the most prominent state tax evader in Oregon is a “cousin” of Eyman. Not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination.

    Got proof for that commentary?

  37. 40

    Zotz spews:

    I observe that the trolls are particularly “exercised” over this post, Goldy. I think you hit a nerve.

    Can’t wait help collect signatures on this one…

    Please keep us posted.

  38. 41

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    To which I have two main responses. First, the Washington State Supreme Court last explicitly ruled on this issue way back in 1933; our current slate of Supreme Court justices have never addressed this issue, and as the precedent flouting majority on the U.S. Supreme Court recently demonstrated, the opinions of the current justices are the only ones that matter.

    So Goldy, since this SCOTUS court hasn’t discussed abortion, this court’s opinion on abortion only matters? You’ll accept a new decision?

    From the NY Times “The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions.” – It’s from the NY Times, the “newspaper of record”!

  39. 42

    spews:

    Puddy’s clueless (so what else is new?):

    N Farts

    Bill Sizemore, the most prominent state tax evader in Oregon is a “cousin” of Eyman. Not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination.

    Got proof for that commentary?

    Proof of what?

    That Sizemore is prominent? Half of the top 10 Google hits on “tax evasion Oregon” point to him.
    That Sizemore is a tax evader? See the link in my earlier comment.
    That Sizemore is Oregon’s Eyman? Again, see above. Or ask any Oregonian.
    That he’s not a liberal? You cannot be serious.

    In other words, Puddy, what the fuck are you blithering about?

  40. 43

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    N is so dumb and the post above proved it. You farted

    is a “cousin” of Eyman.

    Prove it. Display how family tree moron. Quotation marks be damned. You didn’t write “acts like Eyman”.

    Prove your tripe or take it back. Puddy knows Eyman.

    Whatafool!

    So based on your HorseShit here Puddy can say N is a “cousin” of John Edwards!

  41. 44

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @33 “Like the brilliant trillion $ stimulus which raised unemployment from 7% to 10% which did absolutely nothing for the economy?”

    Nice try at spin, asswipe. Here are the official unemployment figures:

    2007-05-01 4.4
    2007-06-01 4.6
    2007-07-01 4.6
    2007-08-01 4.6
    2007-09-01 4.7
    2007-10-01 4.7
    2007-11-01 4.7
    2007-12-01 5.0
    2008-01-01 5.0
    2008-02-01 4.8
    2008-03-01 5.1
    2008-04-01 5.0
    2008-05-01 5.4
    2008-06-01 5.5
    2008-07-01 5.8
    2008-08-01 6.1
    2008-09-01 6.2
    2008-10-01 6.6
    2008-11-01 6.9
    2008-12-01 7.4
    2009-01-01 7.7
    2009-02-01 8.2
    2009-03-01 8.6
    2009-04-01 8.9
    2009-05-01 9.4
    2009-06-01 9.5
    2009-07-01 9.4
    2009-08-01 9.7
    2009-09-01 9.8
    2009-10-01 10.1
    2009-11-01 10.0
    2009-12-01 10.0

    http://research.stlouisfed.org.....UNRATE.txt

    What you see here, of course, is unemployment accelerating as the housing bubble bursts, then credit seizes up, then the financial system collapses, then the economy implodes, on Bush’s watch — a direct result of Greenspan’s mismanagement of the Fed and the GOP’s laissez-faire “free market” policies — you might say “the mother of all market failures.”

    And what you don’t realize, of course, is that unemployment is a trailing economic indicator — it reflects events that occurred six months to a year or more ago.

    Fast-forward to January 2009. By now, Bush is pouring taxpayer money into the banks — the speed and depth of the financial collapse scared the shit even out of him. Obama takes over and continues the bank bailout.

    Unemployment will still rise for several more months as the aftershocks rumble through the economy, but the government rescue of the financial system halts the economic death spiral and the stock market bottoms in March.

    Every economist on the planet agrees that without this rescue of the big banks and Wall Street, we’d now be living through Great Depression 2.0, with unemployment above 20% and still climbing.

    Now fast-forward to summer of 2009. Obama and the Democratic congress continue to shore up the private financial sector, and begin pumping stimulus into the economy. By December, unemployment has leveled off, and this probably is the bottom for this trailing indicator, as companies have now started hiring to rebuild inventories.

    Obama, Geithner, and Bernanke prevented a depression as bad as the 1930s. Their thanks for it? A howling mob of rightwing idiots demanding their heads. And this in a country with universal free education, newspapers and magazines, and college educationa available to almost anyone who wants it. You start to understand why society in the Middle Ages was divided into nobles and serfs: Some people are just too damn stupid to choose their own leaders and have to be told what to do or everything falls apart.

    Maybe one of these days Doofus will make it into the 14th century, but I doubt it.

  42. 45

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @38 All precedents are not equal. Marbury v. Madison, dating back to 1803, is rock-solid: a case for the ages. Plessy v. Ferguson was feeble the day it was written, and only a half century later was repudiated by a unanimous Supreme Court.

    Culliton is more like Plessy than Marbury. Handed down by a bare 5-4 majority, weakly reasoned and propped up by a federal statute that no longer exists, no competent lawyer would advise a client to rely on it being reaffirmed today.

    Part of a lawyer’s job is to evaluate old cases and make an educated guess about their present viability. Lawyers don’t think in terms of “worthless” or “it is the law until changed”; that’s layman’s analysis. Lawyers craft arguments and calculate odds.

    There’s no question here of conforming to laws in place; the question is what the likelihood is that a state income tax enacted by legislation or initiative would pass judicial muster. Goldy has presented his rationale for why it would. Your simplistic bromides add nothing of substance to that discussion.

  43. 46

    spews:

    Go (back) to hell, Puddy. Your colleague RUFUS used the phrase “all your out of state cousins who cheat on their state taxes” in his idiotic comment @22. Without putting quotes around the word cousins.

  44. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @41 Here is poodle at his finest. He takes 3 completely unrelated topics — state income tax, abortion, and federal campaign finance laws — and weaves them together into a pseudo-argument. It resembles a child playing with alphabet blocks.

    Look, dummy, if you want to discuss Roe v. Wade that’s fine — but read the case first. Not that you would be able to follow the arguments, or understand it. In brief: Roe is in two parts. First, it finds there is an implied constitutional right to privacy. This part of the case is impeccably reasoned, and very strong. Second, it tries to figure out when a cell mass turns into a human being, discovers it can’t (and that no one else can, either), and arbitrarily divides pregnancy into three “trimesters” with different rules for each. This part of the case — the part that makes abortion a privacy right — is even more rickety than the Washington case propping up our inequitable state tax system. Here, the capacity of our legal system to knock over jury-rigged precedents should give abortion opponents like you much cheer.

    Of course, abortion isn’t really a legal question, and Roe v. Wade is really only a sideshow, which is why you shouldn’t put too much stock in the frailty of the second (and, from an abortion opponent’s viewpoing, crucial) part of the decision. It isn’t legal argument that holds it up; it’s societal forces that hold it up, and SCOTUS is a political institution that responds to societal forces, which is why Roe v. Wade won’t be overturned any time soon.

    The justices, including the conservative justices with antagonistic attitudes toward abortion, aren’t stupid. They know that if they reversed Roe v. Wade tomorrow, people would still get abortions. Only know they’d get illegal abortions and a lot of people would die, and a lot of law enforcement resources would be squandered on trying to enforce an unenforceable law, and all 50 state legislatures would be boggd down in endless partisan wrangling over whether abortion should be legal or illegal, and meanwhile abortions would continue apace. That’s why they don’t knock over the flimsy reasoning of the second part of Roe v. Wade, but only chip at the edges of legalized abortion.

    All of this is too complex for a simple mind like yours to see. Your mind is too narrow to comprehend the interplay between law and social forces. You don’t comprehend that judges are engaged with the world around them, and legal reasoning doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    Marbury gas endured because it filled in a necessary blank space in the blueprint for our form of government.

    Plessy fell because it embodied a social doctrine that ultimately was bad for society and could not be reconciled with our most basic values of individual liberty and legal equality as expressed in the Constitution.

    When Goldy, who is not a lawyer, looks at Culliton he sees a case that no longer serves society’s needs but instead contributes to the dysfunction of our state’s method of financing its government — it wouldn’t surprise me if he got some help with these insights from his lawyer contacts, but that’s beside the point — and makes a prediction, which most thinking lawyers would agree with, that this case doesn’t have much of a future as precedent. I would agree with that.

    And poodle? He’s out there banging on a garbage can lid.

  45. 48

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Wow, that one is so full of typos — and no edit function here to help out — that I think I’ll repost it.

  46. 49

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @41 Here is poodle at his finest. He takes 3 completely unrelated topics — state income tax, abortion, and federal campaign finance laws — and weaves them together into a pseudo-argument. It resembles a child playing with alphabet blocks.

    Look, dummy, if you want to discuss Roe v. Wade that’s fine — but read the case first. Not that you would be able to follow the arguments, or understand it. In brief: Roe is in two parts. First, it finds there is an implied constitutional right to privacy. This part of the case is impeccably reasoned, and very strong. Second, it tries to figure out when a cell mass turns into a human being, discovers it can’t (and that no one else can, either), and arbitrarily divides pregnancy into three “trimesters” with different rules for each. This part of the case — the part that makes abortion a privacy right — is even more rickety than the Washington case propping up our inequitable state tax system. Here, the capacity of our legal system to knock over jury-rigged precedents should give abortion opponents like you much cheer.

    Of course, abortion isn’t really a legal question, and Roe v. Wade is really only a sideshow, which is why you shouldn’t put too much stock in the frailty of the second (and, from an abortion opponent’s viewpoint, crucial) part of the decision. It isn’t legal argument that holds it up; it’s societal forces that hold it up, and SCOTUS is a political institution that responds to societal forces, which is why Roe v. Wade won’t be overturned any time soon.

    The justices, including the conservative justices with antagonistic attitudes toward abortion, aren’t stupid. They know that if they reversed Roe v. Wade tomorrow, people would still get abortions. Only now they’d get illegal abortions and a lot of people would die, and a lot of law enforcement resources would be squandered on trying to enforce an unenforceable law, and all 50 state legislatures would be bogged down in endless partisan wrangling over whether abortion should be legal or illegal, and meanwhile abortions would continue apace. That’s why they don’t knock over the flimsy reasoning of the second part of Roe v. Wade, but only chip at the edges of legalized abortion.

    All of this is too complex for a simple mind like yours to see. Your mind is too narrow to comprehend the interplay between law and social forces. You don’t comprehend that judges are engaged with the world around them, and legal reasoning doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    Marbury has endured because it filled in a necessary blank space in the blueprint for our form of government.

    Plessy fell because it embodied a social doctrine that ultimately was bad for society and could not be reconciled with our most basic values of individual liberty and legal equality as expressed in the Constitution.

    When Goldy, who is not a lawyer, looks at Culliton he sees a case that no longer serves society’s needs but instead contributes to the dysfunction of our state’s method of financing its government — it wouldn’t surprise me if he got some help with these insights from his lawyer contacts, but that’s beside the point — and makes a prediction, which most thinking lawyers would agree with, that this case doesn’t have much of a future as precedent. I would agree with that.

    And poodle? He’s out there banging on a garbage can lid.

  47. 50

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 47

    If I’m wrong I welcome correction, Rabbit, but didn’t the Supreme Court sort of sideshow Roe anyway a few years ago. I want to say it was a decision called Webster, but could be wrong. The burden was that the court thought abortion a state, not a federal, issue.

    Again, please correct me if I’m wrong.

  48. 52

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @50 Abortion is still a federal constitutional right, but SCOTUS has given states some leeway in regulating it. Webster didn’t change this basic framework.

  49. 53

    kmortland spews:

    How in the world did a posting about an income tax initiative morph into a yelling match about Roe v. Wade? Need to stay on point, people.

    Goldy: You seem a bit sensitive about this. I’m curious? What does it matter where the truth comes from, so long as its the truth. No initiative can amend the Washington State Constitution and there’s no other way to put in a graduated income tax than to pass a constitutional amendment. You can grumble all you want, but those are the facts.

    As for Sec. of State Sam Reed, you can count on him to do exactly what’s right in processing an initiative request / application. If it qualifies for the ballot, it’ll be there. If there’s a legal challenge and the initiative is declared unconstitutional before it goes to the ballot, the S.S.O. will process the initiative in whatever protocol is called for. Remember, this is the guy that followed the rules about election certification, while his party was pushing him to refuse certification in 2004. He does what the law requires, period.

  50. 54

    don spews:

    @53

    Except as Goldy pointed out, the 1933 decision was flawed and not decided correctly. No one up until this time has challenged the law because “everyone believes the law is settled”. So when the Secretary of State (or his spokesman) comes out and says that the law is settled, he is wrong. When it comes time to sign the initiative, you will have opponents out there telling people not to sign since the Secretary of State has already said its unconstitutional.

  51. 55

    don spews:

    @4 “must resort to an initiative to ram an income tax through”

    Ha, Ha! Just like Timmy rammed through initiatives for $30 car tabs, lower property taxes, slot machines, anti-gay measures. You mean that kind of ramming?

  52. 56

    spews:

    “Our Court would likely take a ‘clean slate’ approach to the income tax today.”

    That would be the Supreme Court with elected justices?