Washington: “Balance of Powers Restoration Act” introduced, statute would let legislature overturn state appellate courts by simple majority vote

I mentioned a few days ago the constitutional amendment in Florida to allow that state’s legislature to overturn state court decisions striking down state laws by two-thirds vote of the legislature.

Washington State’s legislature is attempting to go one step beyond Florida and enact by statute a provision to allow the legislature to overturn that state’s appellate courts by a simple majority vote.

HB 1072 of 2017, the “Balance of Powers Restoration Act” dedicates several paragraphs toward critiquing judicial review and finds the executive and legislative branches are, in effect, not obligated to follow court decisions striking down laws as unconstitutional.

Instead of judicial review, HB 1072 would set up a three prong process to declare that

The legislature determines, declares, and affirms that …… (the act designated by bill number and chapter number as indicated in the session laws, whether codified or uncodified) as enacted is constitutional, the opinion of the judiciary notwithstanding.

  1. If the Washington Supreme Court or Court of Appeals finds any legislative act violates the state constitution, the House and Senate are to meet in special session (if out of session) or take the case up (if in session or at start of next session).
  2. If the House and Senate both vote by a simple majority to affirm the constitutionality of the legislative act, “the legislative determination is effective immediately, and the legislative act under consideration is binding on all persons affected by it from the effective date of the act, notwithstanding the opinion of the judiciary, but the decision of the case remains binding on the parties to it.”
  3. The legislature’s vote itself would be subject to a popular referendum that could override the legislature (i.e. uphold the court’s decision) by simple majority vote.

HB 1072 has been filed in the House Judiciary Committee.

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