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Challengers accuse Washington Supreme Court justices of overstepping on education cases

On Monday, two Washington state Supreme Court justices apologized for the timing of their charter school ruling in September last year.

They spoke at a candidate forum in Seattle where education questions were hotly debated.


Justice Mary Yu said the court shouldn’t take political consequences into account. But both she and Justice Charles Wiggins apologized for creating uncertainty for charter school students with the timing of their decision last September.

Wiggins said the court didn’t handle that well.

Wiggins: “I’m sorry that it came down on the eve of school beginning. You know, no one asked us to accelerate that case, and every case we have in front of us is important.”

In the forum held by the King County Bar Association on Monday, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen added that the court is trying to work more quickly and ultimately granted a delay to give charter schools time to plan.

Madsen, Wiggins and Yu are up for re-election in November. Their challengers are unhappy with the court’s handling of charter schools. They also disagree with the court’s decision in the McCleary case to hold the state in contempt and administer fines for failing to “amply” fund public education.

Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel is running against Madsen. He said the justices have overstepped their bounds.

Zempel: ”I simply have a philosophical disagreement with the chief justice on where this court has gone, particularly with McCleary and the charter schools.”

Wiggins faces a challenge from Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Dave Larson.

Yu’s challenger is Gonzaga law professor David DeWolf.