Reps. Jason Overstreet and Vincent Buys, along with 23 other Republicans, recently sent a letter to the state Supreme Court warning them to “not continue to perpetuate a constitutional crisis by insisting on violating the very constitution every member of the court has sworn, by oath, to uphold. It is a crisis in which you will not prevail.”
Strong words. So what is this constitutional crisis that Overstreet and Buys are so concerned about? Simple, the Supreme Court told the legislature to fund education.
The state Supreme Court has a pretty clear responsibility: interpret our state constitution. Recently, they looked at Section IX, Article 1 which states, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”
They looked at our chronically underfunded school system and determined that the Washington Legislature was not carrying out this part of their responsibility and needed to start funding schools instead of letting them whither.
Overstreet and Buys object to this radical notion, that the Supreme Court can tell the Legislature that it is not doing its job, so they drafted this letter, stating that it is an “unwarranted extension of judicial authority.” In other words, they told the court they don’t have a right to interpret the Constitution in this way.
No matter how you come down on the constitutional issue, what gets left behind are the students of Washington state, who have dealt with deteriorating classrooms, huge class sizes and rapidly dwindling resources.
Overstreet and Buys might feel it necessary to pick a fight with the Supreme Court, but it is clear that the Republicans who signed this letter did so to avoid funding education.