At last, I have vindication, and oddly enough I somewhat have Tim Eyman to thank for it. Back in 2003 Assistant State Attorney General Jim Pharris priggishly and selectively brought a scope challenge against I-831, my initiative to officially proclaim Tim Eyman a horse’s ass, and got an equally priggish Thurston County Superior Court judge to unconstitutionally bar me from delivering petitions to the Secretary of State. Pharris assumed that I would lack the financial resources to appeal the case, and he was right.
But this morning, in unanimously rejecting a pre-ballot review of Eyman’s clearly unconstitutional I-960, the Washington State Supreme Court made it absolutely clear that it would have rejected the lower court’s “unwarranted judicial meddling” and allowed the people to decide on Eyman’s well-documented horse’s assedness.
Preelection review of initiative measures is highly disfavored. The fundamental reason is that “the right of initiative is nearly as old as our constitution itself, deeply ingrained in our state’s history, and widely revered as a powerful check and balance on the other branches of government.” Given the preeminence of the initiative right, pre-election challenges to the substantive validity of initiatives are particularly disallowed. Such review, if engaged in, would involve the court in rendering advisory opinions, would violate ripeness requirements, would undermine the policy of avoiding unnecessary constitutional questions, and would constitute unwarranted judicial meddling with the legislative process.
That Pharris would selectively and vindictively prosecute a scope challenge against I-831, and then argue the reverse a few years later in defending I-960, just shows what an ethically rudderless, stick-up-his-ass hypocrite he really is. But then, he’s a lawyer, so that’s his job. The Seattle Times editorial board on the other hand has no such excuse for their blatant hypocrisy. They smugly urged I-831 be tossed out, and then bemoaned a similar challenge to I-960. I expect an apology any day now.