Friday, September 12, 2014

Partisan politics: the true reason the State Supreme Court is wasting time on McCleary.

There is precisely nothing the state supreme court can do to force the legislature to fund anything.

Let me say that again... slower... for those legally challenged: The supreme court cannot force the legislature to do anything.  Period.  And they know it.

Our governmental system is fairly straight-forward.  Our state's government has 3 branches, and each branch is equal to the other.

That means, for example, that the governor cannot order the court to rule a certain way on a case, the legislature cannot order the governor to do anything and the court lacks the power to force either branch to do anything.

And they know it.

If they COULD do such a thing, there's absolutely zero reason they already would not have DONE such a thing.

They cannot fine legislators, they cannot jail legislators, they cannot take control of legislative bodies, or votes or committees.

The Supreme Court cannot force the Legislature to appropriate funds. It's a separation of powers dilemma that doesn't go away.  If a tax break is otherwise legal, it suddenly doesn't become unconstitutional because it prevents some unrelated goal from being funded.

The court's job is to interpret laws and determine if they meet constitutional standards.

The legislature's job is to make laws... which includes budgets.

There is precisely zero overlap.

So, why is this court engaging in this variety of blustering nonsense?

There are likely many theories.  Here's mine:

These people are from the Puget Sound region for the most part.  They have a strong leftist bent.

Is it impossible that this melodrama is anything but a passion play to aid the democrats in the upcoming election, some 50-odd days from today?


There's no such thing: democrats are already using this as an in-kind donation to their campaigns, whipping it out as a cudgel and beating GOP candidates with it as if the democrat-controlled House wasn't equally responsible over the last two years generally and democrats, who have essentially controlled all of this state's government for the last 30 years wasn't, at base, responsible for all of it.

Threats like those articulated in the Times' editorial are utter nonsense:
Possible punishments include imposing fines, barring lawmakers from funding non-education programs or even selling state property.
Legislators, of course, cannot be fined for failing to legislate.

The court, of course, cannot control what the legislature does or does not do, including the moronic idea that they could "bar lawmakers from funding" anything.  And, while, perhaps they might order the state to sell property, whether the Governor would allow that or not is up to him.  And even if they did, where would that money go?

Into the general fund.  And who administers the general fund?

The legislature.

Our state constitution is not a series of suggestions to be ignored whenever the court feels like it.

They cannot demand that the tenets of the constitution be followed on one hand, while ignoring that same document as they attempt to illegally coerce the legislature to do their bidding on the other.

They put themselves into this hole.  And generally speaking, when you're at the bottom of a hole, it's usually better to stop digging.

This "decision" appears to be, on the face of it, a great deal of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  The Legislature is under no more compunction to jump through a  Supreme Court-held hoop then the opposite would be true if the legislature were pissed at the court.

In fact, the legislature is in a position to retaliate by whacking the Supreme Court's budget in response... and they can do that LEGALLY.  They could financially cripple the court were they of a mind to do it.  But there is no pressure on, no threat to the legislature and no ability of the court to supersede the legislature's authority on this or any other issue.

They know better.  They are bluffing.  And this or any other session... can go on indefinitely on a pro-forma basis to avoid this bit of stupidity:
If the state fails to agree on a plan by the session’s last day, the order said, it must provide a written explanation to the court the very next day. 
“They’re trying to have a forcing mechanism,” said Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chairman of the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. 
Some wondered whether the court meant the last day of the regular session or of any subsequent special sessions. 
“The court is not explicitly clear,” said Alison Dempsey-Hall, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, which represents the Legislature.
The simple solution: stay in session.  Then what?

That wouldn't mean legislators would have to remain in Olympia: with a pro-forma session, it's just a matter of going through the motions... no quorum is required  And as long as the legislature is in session... then what?

Sometimes, partisan hatred can, apparently, even blind judges.

This appears to be that.

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