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March 18, 2008
RADIO: State wins Top-Two Primary Supreme Court Argument

SEATTLE—The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 in favor of the state of Washington in a case upholding the constitutionality of Initiative 872—the Top-Two Primary Initiative.

Voters will now be able to select the candidate of their choice, regardless of political preference, at the August 2008 state primary.

Attorney General Rob McKenna argued the case on behalf of the state of Washington on Oct. 1, 2007. This marks his second US Supreme Court victory since taking office in 2004.

Top Two #1: I’m very happy with the outcome of this case. Voters will now have the opportunity to advance the candidate of their choice –from either party-- to the general election without having to declare a party affiliation themselves. (12 seconds)

Top Two #2: Voters told us they wanted the freedom to choose their favorite candidate regardless of the party and the Supreme Court agreed with them. (7 seconds)

Top Two #3: The Supreme Court agreed with our argument that it is constitutional to allow voters to choose their favorite candidate without being limited to one party or another. (12 seconds)

Background: In November 2004, voters approved a “top-two” primary system where the two candidates who receive the most votes in September appear on the General Election ballot in November. Under this system, the political party affiliation of the winning candidates is irrelevant.

On July 15, 2005, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle, ruled that the Top Two Primary violated the political parties’ First Amendment right of free association by allowing any voter, regardless of his or her affiliation to the party, to choose the party’s nominee, and allowing any candidate, regardless of party affiliation or relationship to the party, to self-identify as a member of that party and appear on the primary and general election ballot as a candidate for that party. The Court struck down Initiative 872 in its entirety and specifically stated that Washington return to the pick-a-party primary used in 2004.

On Sept. 22, 2006, Washington state petitioned for a writ of certiorari and on Feb. 26, 2007, the Supreme Court granted it.

Contact:   Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; Cell: (360) 584-3046


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