The Seattle Times editorial board supports Jim Johnson for re-election to the Washington Supreme Court.
JUSTICE Jim Johnson deserves a second six-year term on the Washington Supreme Court. He has been a strong voice for open government and the people’s rights as citizens and voters.
Further, Johnson had several decades of appellate legal experience, including cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, before he went on the Washington Supreme Court. His opponent, Tacoma attorney Stan Rumbaugh, has relatively little experience in high-court cases.
Johnson came on the court as an expert in elections law, and has been the court’s strongest defender of the people’s rights of initiative and referendum. He wrote a majority decision that protects most initiatives from legal challenges until after the voters have spoken.
He is strong on open government. In one case, Sound Transit had a public meeting at which it voted to condemn a family’s property. They did not know about the meeting. Sound Transit had posted a vague notice on the Internet, then argued in court that the owners should have seen it. Most of Johnson’s colleagues on the court bought that excuse, but Johnson did not, and afterward the Legislature backed him up.
Johnson is a strong supporter of free speech. In a nationally recognized case that threatened First Amendment rights, he declined to apply campaign-finance rules to limit the speech of Seattle radio talk-show host John Carlson.
In the “sinking ship garage” case, the Seattle Monorail Project condemned an entire property that it needed only part of, planning to put the other part in the hands of private developers. The court’s majority said that was fine; Johnson said it violated the owners’ constitutional rights.
This page has not always agreed with Johnson. When gay couples challenged the state’s marriage law, we were for them and the majority of the court was not. Johnson argued that it was not the court’s business to change the traditional definition of marriage.
He is a top-notch justice and is far more qualified to be on the Washington Supreme Court than his opponent. He deserves re-election.