Archive for Wa State Supreme Court

Washington’s charter school law debated in front of the state Supreme Court

By | October 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about the constitutionality of the state’s new charter school law.

A lawyer for the coalition that is suing to stop the charter school law argued that charter schools are “fundamentally different” than traditional “common schools” and should not be funded with certain taxpayer money.

“There is a requirement, in our view, in the state constitution that says when you appropriate money for common schools, it’s got to be used for common schools,” said Paul Lawrence, who represents a coalition that includes the Washington Education Association, El Centro De La Raza and the League of Women Voters of Washington.

The tax revenue collected from various sources to fund common schools is constitutionally protected, Lawrence argued, and can’t be used for charter schools.

State attorney Rebecca Glasgow told the justices the state’s public school system must adapt to the changing needs of students.

“When the voters approved Initiative 1240, they added charter schools to a long list of existing non-traditional, public education programs — many of which are run by school districts, but some of which are not,” Glasgow said.

“This court should hold that charter schools are common schools,” she said. “But even if they weren’t, they can be operated with unrestricted general fund education money.”

Approved by voters in 2012, the charter school law allows up to 40 charter schools to open over the next five years. So far, ten charter schools have been authorized.

The first charter school opened this fall in Seattle, eight schools are enrolling students for next year and one school is slated to open its doors in 2016, according to the Washington State Charter Schools Association. The association’s CEO Thomas Franta issued a statement saying he was “confident” the court will uphold the law, which he described as one of the strongest in the country.

The Supreme Court will issue a decision at a later date. TVW taped the arguments — watch it below.

Charter school law before the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday

By | October 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a case that challenges the constitutionality of Initiative 1240, a measure approved by voters in 2012 that allows 40 public charter schools to open in Washington state over five years.

TVW will air the arguments live on Tuesday, Oct. 28 shortly after 2 p.m.

A coalition that includes the Washington Education Association, El Centro De La Raza and the League of Women Voters of Washington is seeking to have the charter school law declared unconstitutional.

The coalition writes in court filings that “education is the Legislature’s paramount duty” under Article IX of the state Constitution, and lawmakers must offer a “uniform basic education” though taxpayer-funded “common schools.”

The group argues the initiative diverts public funds for “experimental charter schools,” which it says are operated by private organizations and “not required to follow most of the uniform state laws” that apply to common schools. The schools are also outside the supervision of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the coalition says.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote in response that plaintiffs are asking the court to “override the will of Washington’s voters based on an extreme, antiquated approach to Article IX.”

Ferguson wrote: “Moreover, plaintiffs ask this court to adhere rigidly to the framers’ supposed (but unstated) intent, while ignoring that the framers explicitly distinguished between ‘common schools’ and ‘high schools.’ Today, no one – not even plaintiffs – questions the legislature’s decision to classify high schools as common schools, and that Article IX is flexible enough to allow that classification.”

Read all the court filings here.

A King County Superior Court judge last year upheld most of the charter school law, but ruled that some parts are unconstitutional. Judge Jean Rietschel said in her ruling that a “charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district.” Since it is not a common school, she said it does not qualify for certain state money, such construction funds.

The Washington Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

Backpage sex trafficking case argued before state Supreme Court

By | October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Protestors rally against Backpage in front of the Supreme Court

A lawyer for argued before the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday that the website should be granted “complete immunity” from prosecution because it did not write the online ads that resulted in the sex trafficking of three underage girls.

Backpage maintains that the website is immune under the federal Communications Decency Act, which says that an Internet service provider is not liable for the content posted by users.

“It’s clear that Backpage did not create or develop the ads that allegedly harmed the plaintiffs,” Backpage attorney Jim Grant told the court.

But a lawyer for the three victims says that Backpage did play a role in developing the ads.

Erik Bauer told justices that Backpage should be considered an “information content provider” because of its posting guidelines, which he said help traffickers write sex ads that won’t get flagged by law enforcement.

The guidelines include suggestions such as “don’t advertise in time increments of 15 minutes,” and offer a way for pimps to pay for the ads with untraceable prepaid credit cards, Bauer said.

“These so-called posting rules that are on the Backpage website are actually instructions to pimps on how to post an ad that works,” Bauer said.

Grant countered that claim, saying virtually every website has posting guidelines. “Backpage’s rules prohibit illegal content and prohibit improper content, just as Craigslist rules do, just as Facebook rules do, just as Microsoft Windows rules do,” Grant said.

The three victims in the case were between the ages of 13 and 15 when they were trafficked.

The mother of one of the girls told TVW after the hearing that her daughter ran away from home at the age of 15, took a bus to Seattle and within 36 hours was trafficked for sex by a pimp who used Backpage to sell her multiple times a day.

“She’s doing much better today,” her mother said. The pimp was arrested, and she said the next step was to go after the facilitator — Backpage. “I felt it was time Section 230 (of the Communications Decency Act) was looked at,” she said.

The justices will release a decision at a later date. TVW taped the hearing — watch it below:

Washington Supreme Court set to hear Backpage sex trafficking case

By | October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit brought against by representatives of three teenagers who say they were trafficked for sex on the website.

Lawyers for the sex trafficking victims allege that Backpage is liable for creating an online marketplace for sex, and for contributing to some of the content of the ads by posting certain guidelines. Backpage argues it is immune under the 1996 federal Communications Decency Act, which says that an Internet service provider is not liable for the content posted by users.

TVW will air the arguments live at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

The victims were runaways between the ages of 13 through 15 when they were initially trafficked on Backpage by a pimp, according to court filings. The victims allege that Backpage never attempted to verify their ages, and they say they were raped numerous times as a result of the online escort ads that were posted and paid for by the pimp.

They argue in court filings that Backpage contributed to the content of the ads by “providing phoney posting rules and content requirements to instruct sex traffickers not to use certain words and graphics in order to avoid growing scrutiny by the public and law enforcement.”

The pimp who trafficked the girls was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to 26 1/2 years in prison.

Backpage attorney Liz McDougall told TVW it was premature to comment on the lawsuit. However, in an email she said that Backpage fights child trafficking with “approximately 100 staff dedicated to operating a 24/7 triple-tier prevention system (including an automated filter and two levels of human review).”

McDougall said “identifying and vilifying a single U.S. website (previously craigslist, now as the cause of the problem and the key to the solution are ill-founded and unproductive,” and will result in children being trafficked on offshore websites that are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement.

A Pierce County Superior Court judge denied a motion by Backpage to dismiss the case under the Communications Decency Act. Backpage appealed, and the Washington Supreme Court accepted review of the court’s decision.

If the Supreme Court agrees with the victims, then Backpage could be denied immunity and required to pay damages, according to the state Attorney General’s Office, which filed a “friend of the court” brief in the lawsuit against Backpage.

Read all the court filings here.

Gov. Jay Inslee appoints Judge Mary Yu to Washington Supreme Court

By | May 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu was appointed Thursday to the Washington Supreme Court, becoming the sixth woman on the court, as well as the first Asian-American, Latina and openly gay member.

Yu will fill the seat of Justice Jim Johnson, who retired Wednesday from the court for health reasons.

“She has a very, very unique combination of life experiences and legal experiences to bring to this court,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, who announced the appointment at the Temple of Justice with all nine members of the high court present, including Johnson.

Judge Mary Yu and Gov. Inslee

Yu served 14 years on the King County Superior Court, and was a prosecutor under the late Norm Maleng.

She is the daughter of two immigrants, her mother from Mexico and her father from China.

Speaking at Thursday’s announcement, Yu paid tribute to Johnson, saying he “served with honor, he remained true to his beliefs and to what he believed is right.”

Johnson was known as one of the most conservative members of the court,

Yu said she was “proud to come from the ranks” of the state’s trial court judges, describing them as the “work horses” of the court system.

“While I am from King County, I want each of you to know I am truly and earnestly committed to serving all the people of the state of Washington,” Yu said.

She must run for election in November to keep the seat and fill out the two years remaining on Johnson’s term.

TVW taped the announcement — watch it here.

UPDATED: Washington Supreme Court hears liquor initiative arguments

By | May 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Washington Supreme Court heard arguments today on the constitutionality of I-1183, the voter-approved initiative that gets the state out of the liquor business. The Costco-backed initiative allows stores larger than 10,000 square feet to sell liquor starting June 1st.

Opponents of the initiative sued the state, arguing that the measure included more than one subject and was misleading to voters. They appealed to the Supreme Court after a judge in Cowlitz County upheld the initiative in March.

At the heart of their argument is an article in the state Constitution which says that legislative bills and initiatives can’t include more than one subject, and that subject has to be clearly stated in the title of the bill.

Michael Subit, an attorney representing Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, argued in court Thursday that the measure violated the single-subject rule by including a $10 million earmark for public safety.


Supreme Court announces McCleary decision, says state is not fully funding schools

By | January 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

This morning, the TVW crew is at the capitol for the Associated Press legislative preview, where legislative leadership, the governor and human services and education advocates are talking to the media  — you can watch along live on TVW.

In the meantime: The Supreme Court announced this morning that the state is not fully funding education. You can read the full McCleary decision here.

We’ll post more on it after the AP forum.

Group of lawmakers, education groups challenging two-thirds vote requirement

By | July 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

At the end of session, House Democrats voted on a bill to close tax loopholes to fund education. The bill got the majority of votes, but because it didn’t get a two-thirds supermajority, the bill failed. That raised plenty of speculation that the vote was the foundation of a lawsuit challenging the legality of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053, which requires any tax increase — even the closure of a tax exemption — to pass with a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate or a vote of the public.

Today, we learned that 12 House Democrats, along with education advocates and one former Supreme Court justice, are going ahead with that lawsuit. (Check out the link for more on the case and a copy of the legal complaint.)