Lawsuit filed against Gov. Inslee over Capitol fencing

Washington
Ted S. Warren

A member of the Washington National Guard stands at a fence surrounding the Capitol in anticipation of protests Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. According to organizers, some protesters are unhappy the Legislature will meeting virtually and in sessions not open to the public, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the 2021 session which opens Monday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated members of the National Guard this week to work with the Washington State Patrol to protect the Capitol campus.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A civil suit has been filed against Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Chris Liu, the Director of the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES).

The plaintiff believes that the fencing blocking public access to the Washington State Capitol Building is unconstitutional. His belief is that the Governor and DES Director are violating Article 1, Section 29 and Article 2, Section 11 of the Constitution of Washington State by prohibiting public access to the Legislative Building while the Legislature is in session.

This suit was filed by Tyler Miller, who is the founder of a constitutional-activist Facebook page and website called “Liberty, At All Hazards.” He filed the suit against Gov. Inslee and Liu in Thurston County Superior Court on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

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According to a representative from the Governor’s office, Inslee’s legal staff hasn’t reviewed the claim just yet. However, this context was provided by the representative:

“Security on the campus was established in response to threats deemed very serious by the State Patrol. The COVID health guidelines for the legislative session are also necessary and appropriate for the well being of elected officials, staff and the public. ”

The fences were put into place in response to the U.S. Capitol riots and subsequent emotionally-charged protests at the Washington State Capitol Building. Certain rowdy protestors even broke past the gate of Gov. Inslee’s mansion to express their displeasure with former-President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 Presidential Election.

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The Governor also announced that extended security procedures will be upheld at the Washington Capitol to ensure the safety of the state’s lawmakers and officials.

As part of his lawsuit, Miller hopes that public viewing for both legislative chambers returns immediately. In the news release, it’s heavily noted that the lawsuit does not infringe on or challenge the security and health protocols put into place. It says that it will “not challenge the existence or implementation of any reasonable protocols to maximize public health, so long as those measures do not impede constitutionally mandated provisions concerning individual liberty.”

Virtual access is granted to legislative chambers during sessions. However, Miller claims that this infringes on constitutional rights and is insufficient. The reasons cited are “technological access, field of view and other sensory limitations, nuanced ‘behind the scenes’ action and observation.”

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