Category Archives: In the Courts

Memo to the Seattle Times: Majority vote means fifty percent plus one – no more, no less!

Election PostmortemIn the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

The following is the text of the letter to the editor sent by NPI to the Seattle Times in response to the Times’ Sunday editorial urging the state Supreme Court not to strike down I-1053 if it receives an opportunity to do so.

In your Sunday, June 5th editorial (State’s two-thirds rule on taxes should be retained), you contend that Tim Eyman and BP’s Initiative 1053 (which violates Article II, Section 22) could pass constitutional muster:

The constitution does say a majority, but it uses negative language. It says, ‘No bill shall become a law’ without a majority. The state’s Republican attorney general, Rob McKenna, argues that this sets a minimum standard, and that the voters, through the initiative process, may temporarily raise it.

A similar argument was made by proponents of a 1053-like measure in Alaska several years ago, and rejected by Alaska’s Supreme Court in Alaskans for Efficient Government v. State of Alaska (2007). “Other courts interpreting constitutional language have wisely refrained from attributing any automatic significance to the distinction between negative and positive phrasing,” the Court ruled.

Referring to the proponents (Alaskans for Efficient Government), the Court added:

AFEG’s logic would just as readily compel the anomalous conclusion that section 14 was meant to set a ceiling but not a floor — that a majority vote would be the maximum needed to enact any bill, but the legislature would remain free to specify a sub-majority vote as sufficient to enact laws dealing with specified subjects, as it saw fit.

Majority vote means fifty percent plus one. No more, no less. There is no minimum standard. There is only the standard the founders intended – the only standard that makes sense in a democracy.

Our founders knew when it was appropriate to use supermajorities to protect minority rights from mob rule. Wherever a supermajority is required, the Constitution spells it out. But there is no reference to supermajorities in Article II, Section 22. That’s because the founders intended for a majority vote to decide the fate of all bills – not just some bills.

Initiative 1053 is a slippery slope. Unless it is struck down, we will not be protected against future copycat measures that undemocratically tie lawmakers’ hands and prevent our republic from functioning as it was designed to.

The Times gravely errs in attempting to justify its support of an initiative that dangerously undermines our plan of government.

POSTSCRIPT: The Seattle Times has published this letter online.

Statement on the invalidation of Initiative 747

In the CourtsStatements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense this morning applauded the State Supreme Court’s invalidation of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, which placed draconian limits on property taxes in 2001. The Court upheld a lower court decision which found the initiative unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of the State of Washington,” said NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Neither the Legislature nor initiative sponsors have the right to mislead voters with inaccurately drafted law. The Supreme Court has affirmed once again that Tim Eyman’s habit of cutting corners with poorly conceived language is not acceptable.”

“Our state’s Constitution is a meaningless document unless its protections are enforced,” Villeneuve added. “No statute may violate the Constitution for any reason. Those who sponsor initiatives for a living are bound to abide by the same rules that the Legislature must follow. Citizen lawmaking, like the privilege of serving in the Legislature, carries with it huge responsibility.”


  • I-695 (1999): Slashing vehicle fees
  • I-722 (2000): Slashing property taxes


Besides the court invalidations of I-695 and I-722, Tim Eyman’s record is full of defeats:

  • I-745 (2000): Tried to redirect transportation funding to roads, defeated by voters
  • I-776 (2002): Failed to stop Sound Transit’s light rail project or eliminate bonds (the main intent)
  • I-267 (2002): Tried to redirect transportation funding to roads, never qualified for the ballot
  • I-807 (2003): Initiative 960’s more recent predecessor never qualified for the ballot
  • I-864 (2004): Tried to slash property taxes, never qualified for the ballot
  • I-892 (2004): Tried to expand gambling, defeated by voters
  • I-900 (2005): Gave the state auditor too much power to conduct performance audits. Approved.
  • I-917 (2006): Tried to slash vehicle fees, never qualified for the ballot
  • R-65 (2006): Tried to legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, never qualified for the ballot

For more information, check out the complete Failure Chart.

I-960 lawsuit will continue for now

In the Courts

Our parent organization’s blog reports that Futurewise and SEIU 775 – the plaintiffs in the lawsuit to block Tim Eyman’s initiative from being considered by voters – have filed an emergency motion for accelerated review with the state Supreme Court because the Superior Court refused to actually consider the issues at hand.

That’s good news, but the Court still has to take the case.

MORE (JULY 25th): A number of articles have appeared recently in Washington media outlets conveying the idea that Tim Eyman’s I-960 has overcome all obstacles and is now guaranteed to go before the voters of Washington State. Despite I-960’s passage of a random sample check conducted by the Secretary of State’s office, the initiative is still not cleared for placement on the ballot yet because Futurewise and SEIU 775 have appealed Judge Catherine Shaffer’s decision to allow I-960 to proceed. The lawsuit thus continues while the state Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.

“If the Supreme Court accepts the case, it is our hope that it will set a precedent that checks abuse of the initiative process and upholds the rule of law,” said NPI Executive Director and Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve.

“The initiative process has limitations for good reason. It cannot, for instance, be used to amend the U.S. Constitution. An initiative that attempted to covertly amend the U.S. Constitution would be struck down by the Courts and not allowed to go before voters. Likewise, I-960, which contains language that is in conflict with our state’s Constitution, ought to be nullified.”

Statement on the Initiative 747 ruling by Judge Roberts

In the CourtsStatements & Advisories

Permanent Defense today applauded the decision of King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts, who ruled that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747 was unconstitutional.

“It’s a very simple concept: Washington State laws, including initiatives passed by voters, cannot violate the state Constitution,” said Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve. “We agree with the judge and believe her reasoning in this case is sound.”

“What’s more, Initiative 747 has already caused significant damage to communities throughout Washington State,” Villeneuve added. “Police and fire departments, libraries, parks, pools, and other public services have been badly hurt by I-747.”

“Not only are Tim Eyman’s initiatives bad for public services and bad for our communities, but they are poorly written and out of compliance with our state’s constitution.”

According to the Department of Revenue, the loss to the state property tax totals $226,923,000 for the 2005-2007 biennium while losses to local taxing districts total $571,496,000. That’s $571 million dollars – an enormous sum of money. The loss to local governments in 2006 alone is some $285 million dollars (PDF).

Incidentally, there are several conflicts of interest in this court case: Attorney General Rob McKenna, who has (so far) unsuccessfully defended I-747 for the state, was a coauthor of the initiative. The other initiative coauthor is Jim Johnson. Johnson currently sits on the state Supreme Court, which may hear this case on appeal.

Permanent Defense will be calling for Johnson to recuse himself from the case if the state Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal.

Whitman County, nonprofits sue to invalidate Initiative 747

In the Courts

Good news from the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Whitman County and a coalition of nonprofit groups are suing the state, arguing that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, which capped state and local property tax increase at 1 percent per year, is unconstitutional.

At a hearing in King County Superior Court on Friday, June 2, the plaintiffs will argue that I-747 didn’t accurately describe the law it would amend and that the initiative’s ballot title didn’t accurately describe its subject. The group said similar arguments were used to invalidate Initiative 695, another Eyman initiative aimed at reducing car-tab taxes to $30.

The lawsuit is brought by Whitman County and several nonprofits, including Washington Citizen Action, the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition, and Futurewise, the group formerly known as 1,000 Friends of Washington.

I-747 created a funding crisis for local and state governments, the group said.

“Initiative 747 has taken a dramatic toll on small county governments like those east of the mountains,” said Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch. “Under this initiative, our revenue simply cannot keep up with inflation and we are being forced to cut critical services.”

Eyman’s Initiative 18 lawsuit is ridiculous

Ballot WatchdoggingIn the Courts

Once again, Tim Eyman is sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong… into other people’s business.

Initiative 18 is a King County initiative originally sponsored by the King County jail guards’ union that would reduce the size of the King County Council from thirteen members to nine.

The union was mad at the council because their pay was cut, and alas, decided to file an initiative to reduce the size of the Council.

All that money, spent just on revenge. To get some help, they hired initiative profiteer Tim Eyman, who not only loves making money, but taking up a cause against a government that doesn’t even have jurisdiction over him.

Eyman lives in Mukilteo, in Snohomish County, but that doesn’t stop him from attacking the “Cadillac” King County Council for no particular reason other than the fact that it has thirteen members.

Eyman, and the jail guards union, have claimed that it’s too much bureaucracy, and that the Council should be reduced. But any government is obviously too much government for Tim and his cronies in the jail guards’ union.

Perhaps they would prefer if the criminal justice system were dismantled and criminals were allowed to roam free. Or that funding for public services was cut off and everyone was left to fend for themselves.

There is nothing wrong with having thirteen seats on the King County Council. It’s not a “Cadillac” Council. That’s just another stupid label that Tim Eyman has attached in order to defame his opponents.

King County is the state’s largest county and home to its largest city. The problem is that the county is very diverse. There are urban, suburban, and rural communities and cities throughout the county.

In order to represent all of these people, more seats are needed on the King County Council than in other counties.

Shrinking the council by four seats won’t save very much money. In fact, it will almost cost more money to downsize than it would to stay the same. Districts have to be realigned and reassigned. They will become larger.

A councilman or councilwoman will have to represent more people. A broader constituency means the council members will be more removed from the electorate.

I-18 should be seen for what it is- a dim-witted attempt to get revenge on the very people who are trying to do their best to govern the state’s largest county.

The council has tried its best to accommodate the wishes of the people who signed the initiative. The council has basically agreed to the amendment, but voted to postpone the changes for another couple of years.

But either that’s too much, or not enough, for Washington’s premier initiative profiteer. Tim has filed a lawsuit to stop the “sabotage” of Initiative 18 by the County Council.

The Council voted 9-4 to postpone effective changes to downsize the Council- an overwhelming majority.

The jail guards’ union even agreed to the postponement, but Tim Eyman decided not to follow suit. Instead, he filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the Council’s amendment.

Now, along with the son of the late Kent Pullen, who used to be a council member, Eyman is a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit to stop the King County Council from making those changes. Curiously, the lawsuit was filed in Snohomish County.

Clearly, no change is fast enough for Tim Eyman, even when it isn’t his issue or his government. Eyman’s meddling is outrageous. He has no business interfering with King County’s affairs.

It is clear that Eyman initiatives, and Eyman-backed initiatives, can only mean bad news for Washington State and its communities.

And voters are quickly beginning to realize this fact. 3 of the last 4 Eyman initiatives have failed to make the ballot- and one only succeeding because of heavy financial support by the gambling industry- the special interests.

There is no tax revolt, and no mass anti-government movement in Washington State. It is a myth spread by Tim Eyman and his small band of supporters, who don’t even show up when Tim comes to Olympia to turn in signatures. It’s the largest political sham in the history of the State of Washington.

And the electorate is finally beginning to see it for what it is.

Eyman claims premature victory on I-776 court ruling

Election PostmortemIn the Courts

Tim Eyman, notorious for making sensational predictions, lying about finances, being deceptive to voters and declining to face the reality of his own tax cuts, has declared victory in the I-776 court ruling which has not yet been made public. Eyman’s “victory” statement is an unfounded gamble based on wild speculation and wishful thinking. On Monday, October 6th, Eyman sent an email which was titled:

Supreme Court to uphold Initiative 776 this Thursday, derailing Sound Transit’s light rail and its pursuit of $500 million in federal funds

The body of the email includes sentences like:

“But the Supreme Court wasn’t buying Sound Transit’s delusional second-subject fantasy…….”

“That’s why it’s so satisfying to watch them suffer with the Supreme Court’s affirmation of I-776. I-776 blows a huge 20% hole into the side of Sound Transit’s battleship.”

“Two days from now (Wednesday afternoon) on the State Supreme Court’s website (, they will announce that their decision on I-776 will be released on Thursday. Once they do affirm I-776 on Thursday, just sit back and watch the taxpayer-financed political hacks at Sound Transit go into full-blown damage control.”

Once again, Eyman is trying to act as our political meteorologist. The only problem is that he never studied judicial weather and he predicts an overturning downpour when there may be a upholding sun.

Eyman is making big, wild gambles that are based solely on what he heard the judges say to Sound Transit’s lawyers in one day in the courthouse, and what he desperately hopes. Furthermore, his quotes from the email are only ones aimed at Sound Transit. The article doesn’t mention any questions justices asked the Attorney General, who is defending the initiative as required to by law.

PD conducted an investigation following the reception of the email to see if a leak had enabled Eyman to learn the ruling in advance. This is what the State Supreme Court said in an email response to our inquiry:

The court does not announce its decisions in advance, even to the parties of the case. It does try to announce one day in advance which opinions will be published, but the result is never given in advance.

The Attorney General’s office said:

We certainly have no independent knowledge either when the opinion is coming out or what its contents are. In the past, most of the hot “tips” we’ve heard about cases coming down turn out to be unfounded rumors. We will be anxiously awaiting the official ruling when it comes out.

Premature victory declarations will not help Eyman to continue to destroy the State of Washington. Sensationalized messages, as in this case, are as pointless as the tax cuts Eyman promotes, for they come at the heavy cost of uprooting public services.

  • 1
  • 4
  • 5

You are here:

Recent victories

Justice is Served Upon Tim Eyman

Victory: I-976 struck down!

What we do

Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

Protecting Washington Since 2002

Newsroom Archives