September 14th, 2017
Right wing blocked once again from hijacking the local initiative power to attack immigrants
In the CourtsStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis
Today, King County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Berns issued a preliminary injunction blocking a malicious right wing initiative from the November 2017 ballot in Burien which sought to overturn a city ordinance that prohibits police and city employees from asking about a person’s immigration status or religious affiliation.
The initiative, spearheaded by a right wing group calling itself “Respect Washington”, which gathered enough signatures to force its repeal scheme before the city council of Burien. Given the choice of approving the initiative or sending it to voters, the council opted to refer it to the ballot. But now the mean-spirited measure has been stopped in its tracks thanks to a timely ruling from Judge Berns. King County Elections is now in the process of preparing new ballots for Burien voters that do not include the initiative.
“Respect Washington” had tried to get a similar measure on the ballot in Spokane, only to be thwarted last month. The group’s loss in court today is its second such defeat.
Prior to targeting local jurisdictions like Spokane and Burien, “Respect Washington” had attempted for several years in a row to qualify an anti-immigrant scheme to the statewide ballot, but each effort by the group to mount a statewide signature drive ended in failure.
Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve praised Berns’ decision, noting that “Respect Washington” ironically failed to respect the limits of the local initiative power, which are spelled out in state law.
“For years, Washington’s right wing has repeatedly sought to undermine the representative government our founders gave us by hijacking the initiative process to force public votes on schemes intended to defund our public services and destroy protections for working families, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants,” said Villeneuve. “But progressives have been fighting back at both the state and local level to uphold Washington values, our Constitution, and our laws. And we’re winning.”
“For the second year in a row, there are no right wing measures on our statewide ballot, and efforts to attack immigrants have been blocked in Spokane as well as Burien.”
“The team at NPI extends our most profound thanks to Burien Communities for Inclusion and their attorneys at Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP for successfully challenging this mean-spirited measure. While their lawsuit isn’t over, it’s good to know that this initiative will not be appearing on the ballot in Burien this November.”