Appeals Court to Consider Community Bill of Rights

Spokane (1/6/2014) – On August 23, 2013 Spokane Superior Court Judge Moreno denied a citizen vote on the Community Bill of Rights and Fair and Clean Elections ordinance. Both had duly qualified to be on the November 2013 ballot via the citizen initiative process.Envision Spokane – proponents of the Community Bill of Rights – have appealed the lower court decision to the Washington State appeals court. Their brief was filed today with the Court of Appeals, Division III of the State of Washington and can be found by clicking this link:

The brief argues that not only has the lower court erred in its decision to remove the Community Bill of Rights from the ballot by dramatically exceeding the grounds of what is allowable in a pre-election initiative challenge, but that in denying the vote of the Community Bill of Rights the courts have usurped a fundamental right to local self-government.

“The Washington Constitution recognizes this fundamental right [right to local self-government] – declaring, in the first section of the first article, that “[a]ll 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.”, taken from the brief filed by Envision Spokane.

The brief also highlights the core duty of self-government locally in that, “the initiative [the Community Bill of Rights] seeks to expand the rights of the people of Spokane by providing constitutional rights to employees in the workplace, expanding protections for the natural environment and neighborhood residents, and by restricting corporate interference with community rights. In doing so, the City [Spokane] is carrying out its core duty – as a government of this nation and as a home rule municipality – to secure and protect the rights of the community within its territory.”

No trial date has been set, though the expectation is for the case to be heard later in 2014. If the lower court decision is overturned, Envision Spokane is asking that the Community Bill of Rights be put to the vote of the people at the next available ballot. A nearly identical version of the Community Bill of Rights was voted on in 2011, coming up just 500 votes shy of passing.

“The initiative process in general, and the Community Bill of Rights specifically, have always been about putting real decision-making authority in the hands of the people, not just a select, powerful few”, says Kai Huschke, campaign director of Envision Spokane. “The lower court had no right to deny the people’s business. We are looking to the appeals court to correct this mistake.”

View brief:

Download brief: