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.”
“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?”