Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 27, 2014

Overstreet and Buys Disregard Supreme Court, Students

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.”

Rep. Vincent Buys

Rep. Vincent Buys

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.

Rep. Jason Overstreet

Rep. Jason Overstreet

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.



  1. The Legislature defines “ample provision,” not the Supreme Court… You say education is underfunded… that is an opinion, not necessarily a fact… an equal, and perhaps more compelling, argument is that education is overfunded and under managed… Again, that is a legislative matter and I think legislators on both sides of the aisles should resist the court on this by making it clear what the legislators think ample provision is… We already have a president who thinks he can legislate with a pen and a cell phone…we don’t need a court doing the same.

    • Spot on Jack.

  2. My legal background is a little weak but my understanding of the courts checks and balances was that if something was written in the constitution it was up the court to interpret it? So wouldn’t defining the word “ample provision” be exactly what the court does?

  3. And what have got to show for funding public education: students that can’t read, write or think that are just waiting to become wards of the state.

    Let’s promote Charter schools and vouchers, end this disaster and quit throwing money down a rat hole!

  4. Where did you get your education? I got mine in public schools in states around this country, including Washington.

  5. What evidence shows that schools are failing? Or are you just parroting talking points with no proof? Hmmm?

  6. actually according to state stats 85% of 10th graders are capable of reading and writing at a level to get them into college (I can show you the WASL test results) or you can Google them if you wish. While I don’t agree with standardized testing because it puts priorities in the wrong place… does prove that at least 85% of students can “read and write”
    Also as someone who has experienced both private and public education I would say that the private school didn’t warrant the 4X price tag (and before wayne says anything) it’s 2X counting in the tax payer subsidies.

  7. I find it interesting that “conservatives” like Farber want to radically change the structure of an education system that has been functioning for more than a century, replacing a constitutional function with vouchers. How does that = conservative?

    BTW, what is a voucher, other than a promise of govt payment that is subject to the degradation of inflation, such that the quality of its buying power is diminished over time? How is that adequate solution to anything?

    • Because vouchers can be used for parochial and home schools, getting g-d back where he belongs — squarely in the classroom.

  8. Obviously Reps. Jason Overstreet and Vincent Buys and the 23 other Republicans are more concerned with their political ‘agenda’ than with carrying out their duties as representatives of the people.

    Since ARTICLE I, SECTION 1 of the Washington State Constitution says: “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”, can we interpret that to mean we (the governed) can write a letter to Overstreet and Buys withdrawing our consent and booting them out of the Legislature?

    In 1786 Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness…Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”
    Dear Jason & Vincie,

    It’s freedom not free dumb.

    One of the ‘common people’

  9. they’re doing what R’s do these days…freakin’ morons who make it up as they go…this ‘citizen government’ thing is not working out…

  10. The Washington state constitution mentions the word “education” 16 times. By comparison, the word “freedom” only merits 11 mentions in the same document. The historical use of the word “education” in that document is extensive. This would suggest that those who make and interpret law in WA state have had long standing arguments that require judicial interpretation over “education”.

  11. […] legislators, such as Reps. Vincent Buys and Jason Overstreet, objected to the Supreme Court telling them exactly what to fund as being “a constitutional […]

  12. […] Court first issued their warnings that legislators where not doing their jobs to fund education, Rep. Vincent Buys shot back with a fiery letter, warning them ““not continue to perpetuate a constitutional crisis by insisting on […]

  13. […] believe that our supreme court has mandated that we fully fund education, however my opponent has signed a letter rejecting the authority of the court, I support the constitution and I believe that our children need to be our top priority.” said […]

  14. […] but another strong yes vote on funding education will send a clear message to the state legislature to stop screwing around and get serious about helping our kids. After years of brutal cuts to our educational system […]

  15. […] continued to fulfil its court-mandated responsibility to fully fund education and this obstinance (highlighted by Rep. Vincent Buys letter blasting the Supreme Court) has our legislators facing potential jail […]

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