Opinion: Study shows bias in Washington State Supreme Court donations and decisions

Chris Corry of the Washington Policy Center says the results of the recent study are not surprising because a statewide vote elects the Washington State Supreme Court.
Washington State Supreme Court. File photo

Chris Corry says the results are not surprising because a statewide vote elects the Washington State Supreme Court

Chris Corry, Washington Policy Center
Chris Corry, Washington Policy Center

Chris Corry
Washington Policy Center

An analysis released today by Ballotpedia and reported on by The Center Square demonstrates remarkable bias in donations and outcomes at The Washington State Supreme Court. 

Of donations given to winning candidates, over 99% of significant contributions were from progressive sources, while donations given to losing candidates 97% of significant contributions were from conservative sources. 

The sources for both winning and losing candidates fell largely into ideologic divides. 

The study also examined court case outcomes based on parties and amici analysis. It found that progressive parties received 72% favorable decisions from the Washington State Supreme Court. Conservative parties were much lower at 15% favorable rulings. Similar numbers were found in amici results, with progressives seeing 75% favorable rulings and conservatives with 13%. 

The results are not surprising. A statewide vote elects the Washington State Supreme Court. There is no representation based on community, population, or geography. The Washington Policy Center has long promoted a policy to change the Washington State Constitution to allow for district elections. Currently only one justice is from east of the Cascades, and that was because of an appointment by Governor Gregoire. As noted in our latest policy guide:

“To improve geographic representation on the supreme court, elections should be changed to district elections. This would provide more regional diversity and help reduce the cost of running for office, while providing candidates more time to focus on voter outreach, debates and forums in their area of the state.”

Chris Corry is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. He is also a member of the Washington House of Representatives.


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