Why should people care about what the Washington Supreme Court does? Many folks do not know that we elect our judges in this state, unlike the federal courts where the President appoints all judges, including the Justices of the United States Supreme Court. In Washington we elect all our judges and the justices of the Supreme Court, and the people should care about what they do because this Court decides issues that have a direct impact on our lives.
The Court that now sits in Olympia, in the last few years
- approved the City of Seattle’s grant of monopoly rights to two trash haulers,
- expanded the government’s ability to keep public records secret,
- overturned the public’s overwhelming vote for property tax relief,
- declared that a mother’s right to protect her children from criminal activity that comes into the home by telephone takes second seat to the criminal’s alleged right of privacy,
- ruled that the state can condemn your property and do no more to tell you about it than put an announcement on an internet web site that someone’s property in the neighborhood had to go,
- and the list goes on.
In too many cases, these decisions are made even though our state Constitution says exactly the opposite. For example, Article I, Section 12 of the Constitution says: “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.” But the Supreme Court ruled just last week that this was no obstacle to a grant of monopoly rights to two trash haulers.
Economics 101 taught us that monopolies cause prices to rise – that is the fundamental problem with them – without competition, a monopoly can charge whatever they want for their services. So, at the most basic level, if you live in Seattle and wonder why your monthly bill for garbage collection is so high and getting higher, then you ought to care about what the Washington Supreme Court does.