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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Jayne: Repeated oath ringing false

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Page Editor
Published: August 15, 2021, 6:02am

This time, apparently, she really, really means it. Despite taking an oath in January to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions, and despite doing the same two years prior and two years before that, state Rep. Vicki Kraft saw the need to remind us of her vow just over a week ago.

“We … reaffirm our sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitutional rights provided to Washington citizens,” reads a letter signed by Kraft and 11 other Republican members of the Legislature.

Phew! Glad we cleared that up. In that regard, Kraft is just like the other 146 legislators. But maybe signing an open letter to the public (which was published in The Columbian) makes her extra special and extra patriotic. Like when Donald Trump hugged an American flag despite violating most of this nation’s foundations. Sentiment can be cheap.

Which is actually relevant to any discussion about Kraft’s vow. Because following the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, Kraft repeated the falsehoods that motivated the insurrectionists. She echoed unfounded claims – which had been rejected by the courts and any reasonable observer – of a rigged election.

“Many of these issues have been raised and distributed on media outlets, other than mainstream media, including social media,” she wrote at the time in an email to The Columbian. “It’s well known that most courts in our country are run by more liberal judges.”

There’s a slight problem with that: Many of the judges who rejected Trump’s fanciful election claims were appointed by Trump. And there’s another problem with that: Kraft is choosing to believe what she sees on social media rather than judges or established media. This is forgivable coming from your Aunt Matilda in Nebraska; not so much from an elected representative.

Given Kraft’s sympathy for seditionists, the motivation behind the open letter is reason for pause. Notably, none of the other Republican legislators from Clark County signed the letter. That confirms our suspicion that all of them are reasonable, and it calls for a closer examination of this vow to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions.

There we find a treasure trove of dog whistles and tropes and pandering, with complaints centering on Gov. Jay Inslee’s response to COVID-19 and on recently enacted police reform laws. “No person, no emergency order and no law have the authority to remove the constitutional freedoms and rights from the people,” the letter says.

Of course not. But Inslee’s emergency orders have survived more than a dozen legal challenges. In one, a state Supreme Court commissioner wrote that the petitioners “ask this court to do what it cannot: control the governor’s discretionary actions.” In another, a federal judge wrote that the plaintiffs did not “establish that the governor’s emergency proclamation is unreasonable, overly broad, or unequally applied. … It is not the court’s role to second-guess the reasoned public health decisions of other branches of government.”

Should Inslee have involved the Legislature more? Sure.

Were his actions unconstitutional? Not according to the courts, who have the final say.

That seems to be a problem. If Kraft truly cares about the constitution, she should recognize, accept and support judicial review. Article IV, Section 1 of the state constitution reads: “The judicial power of the state shall be vested in a supreme court, superior courts, justices of the peace, and such inferior courts as the legislature may provide.” Article 3, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution reads: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made.”

We’re pretty sure that neither makes mention of social media.

All of which undermines the pledge from Kraft and her fellow lawmakers. All of which points out a threat that promises to undermine this nation.

Because those who most loudly proclaim their adherence to the U.S. or state constitutions often are defending only what they imagine those constitutions to be, not what they actually are.