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Old 03-02-2020, 11:05 AM
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Is This a Misuse of Judicial Power?


Washington voters spent years getting $30 car tabs on the ballot. The initiative finally passes and creates a transportation funding panic. A lawsuit is filed and a judge gives an injunction to stop it taking effect. The injunction gets appealed until it hits the state supreme court. The supreme court leaves it in place with no stated reason.
https://komonews.com/news/local/judg...till-in-effect
https://komonews.com/news/local/30-c...lds-injunction

In the case of a 'bad' voter initiative being passed, should the will of the voters be overruled by the courts?
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Old 03-02-2020, 11:11 AM
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If the initiative violates the constitution, the court's have a duty to invalidate it.
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Old 03-02-2020, 11:23 AM
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If the initiative violates the constitution, the court's have a duty to invalidate it.
The judge in the first cite found they did not meet the burden to demonstrate the law was unconstitutional but left the injunction in place anyway. The supreme court did not overturn the law but merely left the temporary injunction in place without citing a reason.

Let's suppose the initiative is constitutional but will have a negative effect on the state. Should the courts intervene or allow the negative effects to occur?

Last edited by Dark Sponge; 03-02-2020 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 03-02-2020, 11:33 AM
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Let's suppose the initiative is constitutional but will have a negative effect on the state. Should the courts intervene or allow the negative effects to occur?
Yes, the courts should allow the negative effects to occur Like Prop 13 in California.

However, if you're a judge who thinks a particular law would have disastrous effects, it's probably not too hard to find a constitutional defect to hang your hat on. Each case has advocates on both sides, all you have to do is pick the argument that suits your politics. Good judges try to avoid doing that.
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Old 03-04-2020, 03:01 PM
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I can't tell from the cites what the reasoning was that the initiative violated the Constitution.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Sponge
Let's suppose the initiative is constitutional but will have a negative effect on the state. Should the courts intervene or allow the negative effects to occur?
If it's constitutional, the judge has no business overruling the initiative.

Leaving the injunction in place without explanation is rather insulting - "we don't need to explain ourselves to you peasants. We know better - get used to it."

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 03-04-2020, 04:05 PM
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Yes, the courts should allow the negative effects to occur Like Prop 13 in California.
Exactly- it's not the judge's duty to save the voters from themselves, but just to determine the constitutionality of the initiative.

In this case, the injunction is basically to delay the implementation of the initiative until its legality can be determined (i.e. the lawsuits are settled or resolved). That's not an uncommon thing to have happen in situations like this AFAIK.

Look at it this way; if they allowed the initiative to go into effect, and it was overturned, then the various agencies would be out the money for the car tabs issued at $30 in the meantime, and I don't think the state could send a bill for the balance to those people.

But if they issue an injunction and keep things the way they are, then if it's overturned, then no harm, no foul. If not, then refunds can always be issued.
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Old 03-05-2020, 07:34 AM
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Am I reading this correctly, in that Washington state residents were bitching about a $30 annual registration fee on their cars? Doesn't that put them on the lower end of the vehicle registration spectrum? We pay every two years and it certainly is more than $60 for the 2 years.
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Old 03-05-2020, 08:45 AM
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What are "car tabs"?
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Old 03-05-2020, 08:47 AM
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Am I reading this correctly, in that Washington state residents were bitching about a $30 annual registration fee on their cars? Doesn't that put them on the lower end of the vehicle registration spectrum? We pay every two years and it certainly is more than $60 for the 2 years.
No, they're trying to limit the amount to $30 per year.
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Old 03-07-2020, 03:01 PM
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Is a car tab the same as a car tag?

What is the statues of a referendum? In PA when I was living there it was an amendment to the state constitution and could not be unconstitutional (I mean, could not violate the PA constitution). On the other hand, if they are just statues, couldn't they be repealed by the state legislature? Or even better, just raise the gas tax. (Better because it charges the people who drive a lot.) And if an initiative repeals that, stop building free highways.
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Old 03-13-2020, 01:40 AM
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I can't tell from the cites what the reasoning was that the initiative violated the Constitution.
...
Regards,
Shodan
From the first cite, it seems that someone is alleging that the measure violates the "more than one topic" rule. Most states that allow voters to propose constitutional amendments have a provision that the amendment can only deal with "one topic."

Of course, you can immediately see the issue with that. How broadly do you define what a topic is?

If I propose an amendment to ban smoking in bars and add a $2.00 per pack cigarette tax, I could argue that my amendment deals with only one topic: the reduction of smoking.

I would guess that this is similar. The amendment probably proposed $30 car tags (it's tags, dammit!) along with a proposal to make up revenue somewhere else. Is that two topics: 1) limit car tags to $30, and 2) make up revenue somewhere else, or is it one topic: restructure the allocation of who pays for the highways?

From everything I have read, there has been no principled way to solve this issue. Courts will typically cite case law for pages, which all restate the question in similarly confusing terms, and then decree that this amendment does or does not violate the one topic rule.

If you make the amendment too broken down, you can have voters pass two contradictory amendments in the same election. What do you do if there are two different amendments on the ballot, one say provides that bona fide cigar bars can provide a smoking area for their patrons, and another that says smoking is banned in all bars?

You also have courts policing the titles of these proposed amendments. Is my proposed bar smoking ban the "Lung Cancer Reduction Amendment of 2020" or is it the "Destruction of Personal Freedom Amendment of 2020"?
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Old 03-13-2020, 09:58 AM
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(I admit to not reading these particular articles, KOMO is a Sinclair group property and notoriously biased.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by BwanaBob View Post
Am I reading this correctly, in that Washington state residents were bitching about a $30 annual registration fee on their cars? Doesn't that put them on the lower end of the vehicle registration spectrum? We pay every two years and it certainly is more than $60 for the 2 years.
No, our car tabs are not $30; mine last year were over $300.

The "$30 Car Tab" thing is, as the OP stated, one of those ideas that has bounced around the state for decades. There have been several initiatives to reduce car tabs to $30 - each time, they've been either overturned (because the initiatives have been deeply flawed) or the state, cities, counties, or other jurisdictions have found loopholes, because $30 car tabs would be catastrophic to the transportation budget.

In 2019, there was another initiative. It, too, was (arguably) constitutionally defective, and everyone knew it - especially the horse's ass who was responsible for the initiative. When it passed, a bunch of lawsuits were immediately filed. Also, the state shut down all transportation projects, because we can't really afford any of them (should this one not be found unconstitutional). However, nothing is going into effect until the suits have all been decided. The right wing media is going nuts claiming that this is King County run amok and activist judges and blah blah blah ... when it's more that the process is just to wait until there's a final decision one way or the other rather than flip-flopping back and forth which is chaotic and messy for everyone.
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Old 03-13-2020, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Or even better, just raise the gas tax. (Better because it charges the people who drive a lot.) And if an initiative repeals that, stop building free highways.
Among the problems with just raising the gas tax is that we already have one of the highest gas taxes in the country, we can't go much higher.

Also, gas taxes are notoriously regressive, they're paid by poorer people who need to drive more and tend to have less fuel efficient cars. (In other words, the person with the brand new Tesla pays nothing when you raise the gas tax, the person driving the 20-year old car shoulders the entire burden). In a state which already has a regressive tax structure, there's no political will at all for making it worse (the red parts of the state would get taxed more, the blue parts of the state don't want to do that to them.)
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Old 03-13-2020, 10:34 AM
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What are "car tabs"?
I am also wondering what a "car tab" is.
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Old 03-13-2020, 10:35 AM
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I am also wondering what a "car tab" is.
Renewal sticker

https://www.google.com/search?q=wash..._AUoA3oECA0QBQ
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Old 03-13-2020, 07:10 PM
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There's another possibility. In 2016 our Colorado Secretary of State treatened to remove a Hamiltonian elector. Now that was highly illegal (I put my reasons in a thread about it) and the 10th Circuit agrees with me. So why did the elector fail to get an injunction before the fact? His attorney's argument was horrendously bad. IANAL and I think I did a better job on here than he did in court. So maybe the pro-initiative side just had a bad argument and the Judge can only rule on what he is presented with, not what he should have been presented with?

Have any of the attorneys here ever see the "clearly right side" lose because the attorneys were bad in court?
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Old 03-13-2020, 07:54 PM
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Have any of the attorneys here ever see the "clearly right side" lose because the attorneys were bad in court?
I have seen some pretty bad attorneys in court. It's frustrating. However, there isn't usually a "clearly right side," so bad advocacy is hard to connect to losing a case. I'm sure it happens, though.

An attorney can clearly lose a case by failing to file something on time, or even raise what would be (should be) a winning argument.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:28 PM
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There's another possibility. In 2016 our Colorado Secretary of State treatened to remove a Hamiltonian elector. Now that was highly illegal (I put my reasons in a thread about it) and the 10th Circuit agrees with me. So why did the elector fail to get an injunction before the fact? His attorney's argument was horrendously bad. IANAL and I think I did a better job on here than he did in court. So maybe the pro-initiative side just had a bad argument and the Judge can only rule on what he is presented with, not what he should have been presented with?

Have any of the attorneys here ever see the "clearly right side" lose because the attorneys were bad in court?
As Procrustus said, it is rare that there is a "clearly right side" in court.

But I have always said that I would rather go up against a very good attorney than a poor one. Why? Because if it is an issue of any somewhat significant consequence, the judge isn't just going to let your side set a precedent because the other side was shitty. They will have their own clerks go through the case law and come up with a better argument than the other side did, one which you don't get to respond to, and maybe rule against you on it.

I argued in front of the State Supreme Court where the State of West Virginia confessed error and said I was right. However, it would have allowed some domestic abusers to escape punishment so they came up with some contorted view of the law and I lost unanimously.
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Old 03-15-2020, 04:35 PM
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There's another possibility. In 2016 our Colorado Secretary of State treatened to remove a Hamiltonian elector. Now that was highly illegal (I put my reasons in a thread about it) and the 10th Circuit agrees with me. So why did the elector fail to get an injunction before the fact? His attorney's argument was horrendously bad. IANAL and I think I did a better job on here than he did in court. So maybe the pro-initiative side just had a bad argument and the Judge can only rule on what he is presented with, not what he should have been presented with?

Have any of the attorneys here ever see the "clearly right side" lose because the attorneys were bad in court?
As Procrustus said, it is rare that there is a "clearly right side" in court.

But I have always said that I would rather go up against a very good attorney than a poor one. Why? Because if it is an issue of any somewhat significant consequence, the judge isn't just going to let your side set a precedent because the other side was shitty. They will have their own clerks go through the case law and come up with a better argument than the other side did, one which you don't get to respond to, and maybe rule against you on it.

I argued in front of the State Supreme Court where the State of West Virginia confessed error and said I was right. However, it would have allowed some domestic abusers to escape punishment so they came up with some contorted view of the law and I lost unanimously.
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