Judiciary

Bill would have judges draw straws to shrink Washington Supreme Court


A Washington state lawmaker who is unhappy with recent rulings by the state supreme court has introduced a bill to shrink its size by four justices.

Which of the court’s nine justices would lose their jobs? The answer would be determined at a public meeting in which all the justices draw straws; those with the four shortest straws would be out of a job. The Associated Press and the Seattle Times have coverage.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, insists his bill (PDF) is serious, AP Says. In a press release, he said the savings in judicial salaries could be used to fund education under guidelines set by the court last year when it found the state was not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fund education.

Baumgartner also cited a ruling by the court last week striking down an initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature for tax increases. The court said the vote requirement could not be enacted without a constitutional amendment. Baumgartner says the state constitution mandates only five justices; legislators added four more.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen told AP she’s not sure the bill is constitutional. “It certainly seems unlikely it could be done,” she said. “It just does not appear to me to be completely thought through, if it’s intended to be serious at all.”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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