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Home » Archives » August 2005 » SJC Named In Civil Rights lawsuit

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08/11/2005: "SJC Named In Civil Rights lawsuit"


A lawsuit Suit has been filed in Thurston Co against San Juan County, and the Cities of Auburn, Kent and Seattle.

As previously reported in The Island Guardian (Link) the Cities of Auburn, Kent, and Seattle joined with the San Juan County Prosecutor, and the law firm of Foster Pepper Shefelman, to bring a lawsuit against NoNewGasTax.com. As a result of the suit, Judge Christopher Wickham of Thurston County Superior Court ruled against NoNewGasTax.com on July 1st.

Attorneys for NoNewGasTax have now filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Cities of Auburn, Kent and Seattle, and -in their words- the San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney. The suit argues that their rights of free association and free speech, both of which are protected by the United States and Washington State constitutions, have been violated.

A spokesman for the group stated that In fighting the power of the San Juan Prosecutor and the Cities of Kent, Auburn and Seattle we clearly needed help. We are getting that help from the Institute for Justice. The Institute for Justice-Washington (IJ-WA), which Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Neil Modie called "A libertarian public-interest law firm, jumping into litigation over anti-gas-tax Initiative 912", is, according to NoNewGasTax the Institute, "a non-profit, public interest law firm that provides its services free of charge".

IJ-WA states in the legal documents it filed in Thurston County Superior Court, that the lawsuit by the cities and the County that attempted to derail the NoNewGasTax initiative, violated the constitutional guarantees of free speech, free association and due process rights of the NoNewGasTax group. IJ-WA also filed a counterclaim against the prosecutors of the cities and San Juan County on behalf of the NoNewGasTax group.

Charity Osborn, an IJ-WA staff attorney wrote."The power to regulate speech is the power to suppress speech. This case proves that politically motivated prosecutors can use campaign finance laws to suppress speech they dont likeThe prosecutors message to the people of Washington is: shut up and pay your taxes"

Bill Maurer of IJ-WA stated that there is also another side to the whole issue that "The prosecutors' action also constitutes a prior restraint on speech because both the media and campaigns will almost certainly refrain from speaking in order to avoid becoming entangled in the campaign finance laws. Whats more, the actions of the prosecutors violate due process because they have delegated their prosecutorial authority to a law firm that is both financially and politically interested in ensuring that the initiative campaign is preoccupied and ultimately defeated."

In a phone interview with Mr. Maurer, he told The Island Guardian "r said he believes they are working for free on this case" and "This raises the implication that Foster-Pepper, as an active opponent of the campaign against the initiative, stands to gain financially if it is defeated."

Mr., Gaylord's office was called for a response to the lawsuit, but Mr. Gaylord was not available. It is expected that Mr. Gaylord will have a different view on the lawsuit . We have requested a response from him, and expect to have one soon, and at that time we will share it with our readers.


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