To the Editor:

Initiative-1639 passed last year with nearly 60% voter approval. As of July 1, 2019, I-1639 is now law in Washington.

Upholding laws that are constitutional until proven otherwise in a court of law has been a cornerstone of our democracy for over two centuries. Local law enforcement and elected officials are entitled to opinions about the constitutionality of any law, but their duty is to enforce the law and protect the public.

We don’t get to pick which laws to obey and disobey. And yet our county sheriff and now our elected commissioners seem to be supporting this fundamental change to our democracy. A resolution essentially declaring I-1639 unconstitutional was put on the Aug. 6 Consent Agenda but was pulled at the last minute.

In choosing to consider a resolution declaring I-1639 unconstitutional despite the fact that they have no legal authority to make such a determination nor are they empowered to rule on a law’s constitutionality, they would be giving the green light to citizens to start disobeying a state law.

What’s next? Once you start down this road of supporting noncompliance with the law, where will it end? Should Kittitas County proclaim itself an arbiter of other state laws? Should it be allowed to ignore laws, say, which govern the sale of marijuana, or the care of the mentally ill?

Rather than considering resolutions ruling on constitutionality of a state law and encouraging citizens to ignore it, the remedy for those opposing I-1639 is to challenge it in court, urge the legislature to overturn or fix it, or mount a repeal effort.

Suggesting to citizens that they ignore a law passed by voters because they think it might be unconstitutional must be vehemently opposed by anyone who claims to support and defend our state and federal constitutions. To quote The Columbian’s recent July 3 editorial: “Suggesting that a particular law should not be defended violates … and undermines the foundation of a law-abiding nation.”

We fear this resolution will find its way back on the commissioners' agenda. This is a slippery slope the commissioners have started down and we of the League of Women Voters urge that our elected officials respect the voters and abide by the rule of law rather than personal opinion.

Kathy Matlin

president, Kittitas Valley League of Women Voters, Ellensburg

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