Supreme Court fines State $100K/day for McCleary failure

In a unanimous order signed by all nine justices, the Washington State Supreme Court today issued contempt of court sanctions against the State for failing to comply with the Court’s orders in the McCleary case. Read the court order, which concludes with:

“Effective immediately, the State of Washington is assessed a remedial penalty of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) per day until it adopts a complete plan for complying with article IX, section 1 by the 2018 school year. The penalty shall be payable daily to be held in a segregated account for the benefit of basic education.

“Recognizing that legislative action complying with the court’s order can only occur in session, but further recognizing that the court has no authority to convene a special session, the court encourages the governor to aid in resolving this matter by calling a special session. Should the legislature hold a special session and during that session fully comply with the court’s order, the court will vacate any penalties accruing during the session. Otherwise, penalties will continue to accrue until the State achieves compliance.

“As it has since the constitutionality of Washington’s school funding system was first litigated in Seattle School District, the court assumes and expects that the other branches of government will comply in good faith with orders of the court issued pursuant to the court’s constitutional duties. Seattle Sch. Dist. 1, 90 Wn.2d at 506-07. Our country has a proud tradition of having the executive branch aid in enforcing court orders vindicating constitutional rights.”