In Washington State, It Is “Majority Rules,” Unless the “Majority Rules”

by lewwaters

Like every other state, ours has a state constitution that just like the U.S. Constitution, is considered the ‘law of the land.’ It was written and adopted as the state came into being and after much consideration and debate.

Like other states, ours also has a list of “rights” that we the people take for ourselves. Number one on our Declaration of Rights is, “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”

The very cornerstone of our system of governance is that all powers to government are granted “from the people, by the people and for the people.” A simpler way to state it would be “majority rule.” With some exceptions, that has served us well. A notable exception would be when Black Americas were wrongfully denied their constitutional rights simply because of their skin color in a few states.

That too was corrected by a “majority rule” vote.

But for the most part, “majority rule” has functioned pretty well.

Acknowledging “majority rules,” is continue to be amazed how the Democratic Party, who touts the principle all of the time when they win, have gone out of their way to overturn such a “majority rule” and “consent of the governed” when it comes to a majority of voters in Washington State sending a clear message to them that we are sorely disappointed in legislative performance when it comes to imposing taxes on us and want the threshold for passing taxes raised to a 2/3 majority vote in the legislature.

Four times now, voters have petitioned, gathered the necessary signatures, placed on the ballot and voted in that requirement on the legislature. Three times it was either overturned by the legislature or through the courts, clearly thwarting the will of the governed. The fourth is currently waiting a court challenge as well by the governor and the Democratic Party.

Discussing this with Rep. Jim Moeller (D. 49) in the comments of a Columbian editorial this past Sunday, the position was stated relies on Article II, section 22 of the constitution that says, , “No bill shall become a law unless on its final passage the vote be taken by yeas and nays, the names of the members voting for and against the same be entered on the journal of each house, and a majority of the members elected to each house be recorded thereon as voting in its favor.”

Moeller said,

“The question is simple: is a simple majority requirement for the passage of any/all bills a floor – meaning can the voters change that requirement through initiative, or is it a ceiling – meaning the supermajority requirement is ‘unconstitutional’ for the passage of any/all bills (except those already identified in the constitution as requiring a 2/3’s vote like capital bonds) and the voter must go through the constitutional process of amending it?”

The constitution also states in part, at Article II Section 1,

“The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the legislature, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, which shall be called the legislature of the state of Washington, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws, and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the legislature, and also reserve power, at their own option, to approve or reject at the polls any act, item, section, or part of any bill, act, or law passed by the legislature.”

Clearly, the authors of our constitution intended for the people to retain power over and separate from the legislature beyond Election Day.

Curiously, Moeller also said, “Funny thing about constitutions. They mostly get in the way of the majority. The ‘tyrannical’ majority that is. That’s one of the primary functions of a constitution – to protect the rights of the minority…” What is curious about the statement, Moeller and his party has been that “majority” in the legislature for how many years now?

Is not a “tyrannical majority” one that continues to thwart the clearly stated will of the people, time and time again?

The Seattle Times has editorialized today, State’s two-thirds rule on taxes should be retained eliciting the usual comments from Democrats attacking anything contrary to the “ruling class elite” attitude displayed by elected officials such as Jim Moeller.

One commenter in particular, Lorrae displays a complete lack of comprehension in what the issue is about. Lorrae says, “Requiring a 2/3 majority to do anything means that 1/3 of the people rule everyone else. That’s about as un-American as anything I can think of,” then asks, “What part of ‘majority rules’ does the Times have problem with?”

First off, the issue is not over votes from the people, but a limitation the people are placing on the legislature, just as 15 other states have.

Second, 64% of the voters approved imposing that 2/3 supermajority vote on the legislature in order to raise taxes. Last I heard 64% is a “majority.” What part of “majority rule” does Lorrae have a problem with?

A majority of the voters in Washington State have once again sent a clear message to the elected officials in Olympia. Our state constitution grants us the privilege to do so beyond elections. If we truly are a “majority rule” state, why do the Democrats continue to raise their middle finger in the direction of voters and thwarting the clear will of the majority?

When the will of the majority does not deny a group of citizens their just rights, as was done decades before in Southern States and is imposed by “the consent of the governed” to “the government,” how can that be considered “unconstitutional?”

8 Comments to “In Washington State, It Is “Majority Rules,” Unless the “Majority Rules””

  1. I like Jim but he should at least Google the topic before proffering a legal opinion. Super-majority requirements are ALL OVER the Washington State Constitution. Jim, let us lawyers practice the law.

    http://crosscut.com/2011/05/05/washington-legislature/20888/Supermajority-voting-is-a-basic-part-of-Washington-state-s-democracy/

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  2. Lew, you can’t let facts interfere with the conclusions of a fringe-leftist.

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  3. I am equally amazed, if not befuddled, by the comments from the “outhouse lawyers” at the Seattle Times who cry “majority rules,” but can’t see that 4 times now, the majority ruled that a 2/3 supermajority is what the people want for tax increases in the legislature.

    Martin, as an attorney I value your legal opinion. What is your view of Article II Section 1 of our constitution related to this?

    It seems clear to me, but I am not an attorney.

    Kelly, we both know that all too often, facts only confuse progressives who only recognize laws that benefit them.

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  4. To give Jim credit, he is right when he implies that constitutions are to protect the minority from the majority.

    Since this voter initiative has come up 4 times (!), it needs to go through the courts, and remember, Washington’s Supreme Court was overridden by the U.S. Supreme Court to get “Top Two” into the law (also, interestingly, another voter initiative). This time Washington judges are listening – if Super-Majority is not thrown out on a technicality (which is what the opposition’s strategy will be), it will pass constitutional challenge.

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  5. I have to admit, Martin, I had to chuckle seeing Jim mentioning a “tyrannical majority” being that he has been in the majority party for quite some time and they continue to thwart the clear will of the voters.

    I guess we’ll just wait and see how it turns out

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  6. I think the whole problem is due to the instant arrogance that makes one’s head swell once they are elected to office. They somehow get the idea that they are “superior” to everybody else.

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  7. I’ve tried to figure out what’s going on with politicians? Mostly, they act and sound illogical because they don’t understand their own ideology. They can’t defend their politics because they don’t know what it’s based on.

    Yes, some politicians are downright corrupt but Jim is not one of those people. The Special Interests who elected Jim – that’s the source of the corruption. That and the selfishness and ignorance of voters – but that’s why we have to settle on democracy – majority selfishness and ignorance wins.

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  8. Martin, I don’t for a minute think Jim is corrupt. Others, yes, but with Jim, it’s a matter of political disagreement.

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