Will the Washington State Supreme Court be renamed the Johnson Supreme Court? Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed seems intent on helping make that happen.
Washington State Supreme Court Position #2 is currently held by Susan Owens, who was first elected in 2000. The position is up for election again this year and she has 4 challengers.
Two of the challengers are attorneys named Richard Smith and Norman J Ericson.
The other two challengers are both named Johnson. Michael Johnson, a Seattle attorney and Stephen Johnson who is an attorney from Kent and also a Washington State Legislator. He is also the hand picked favorite of the BIAW or Building Industry Association of Washington.
Note – The BIAW is trying to pack the court with justices who support weakening growth management and zoning laws in Washington State. They previously were the biggest spenders in helping elect Richard Saunders and James Johnson to the Washington State Supreme Court. In electing James Johnson 2 years ago, they alone spent more money than Mary Kay Becker, a judge in Whatcom County, raised in total.
Anyway Sam Reed, rather than allowing voters to choose between a Michael, Stephen, Richard, Norman and Susan, has decided your choice should be between 2 Johnsons who are attorneys, with one also being a state senator and 3 other candidates who appear not to be attorneys.
His reason for adding occupation is that two candidates with the same last name might confuse voters. Frankly choosing among most judicial candidates is confusing to most voters since voters know so little about them. But Reed has decided to add occupations to help distinguish between the Johnson’s. In doing so he gives an advantage to the Johnson’s.
Below is Reed’s prejudical ballot listing which favor the Johnsons:
Michael Johnson, attorney
Stephen Johnson, attorney/state senator
Norman J Ericson
The most glaring problem – all 5 candidates are attorneys! Reed’s listing makes it look like only 2 of the candidates are attorneys. And by luck of the draw they are also listed at the top of the ballot.
Poor Susan Owens – she is both an attorney and current Supreme Court Justice but she is discriminated against by not having her occupation listed. A state senator gets listed but not a Supreme Court Justice?
If I were with the Owens campaign I would consider challenging the unfair advantage Reed’d decision gives the Johnson’s.
One better unbiased way to distinguish betwwen all the candidates might have been to add their home city. In this case the ballot would have looked like this:
Michael Johnson, Seattle
Stephen Johnson, Kent
Richard Smith, Seattle
Norman J Ericson, Olympia
Susan Owens, Olympia
There are already 2 Johnsons on the Washington State Supreme Court. I am not aware that when they sign opinions that they list some prior occupation to distinguish between them. Do you know who the current two Johnsons are and can you tell them apart? (Answer Charles and James)
What a mess it would be with three Johnsons on the court.
My suggestion – keep the names straight by not voting for any more Johnsons.