King County judge upholds Initiative 976

This morning, King County Judge Marshall Ferguson handed down his ruling in the legal challenge to Initiative 976. In all but two of the issues, he upheld the constitutionality of the initiative — and the other two issues he postponed a ruling on until after additional discovery could be completed.

Let’s deal with the two issues first: whether I-976’s provision establishing Kelly Blue Book valuations grant an unconstitutional privilege to a private company, and whether I-976 impairs the City of Burien’s bonds. Motions for summary judgment may only be granted when there are no material facts in dispute. For these two issues, neither of which were raised last November when Judge Ferguson was considering the request for a preliminary injunction, the defendants claimed that they needed to do additional discovery to clarify certain facts. Ferguson accepted that claim, and denied the motions for summary judgment by both sides so that discovery could move forward on those issues. He left open the possibility that motions for summary judgment could be re-filed once discovery is complete.

On all the other issues, Ferguson found the plaintiffs’ arguments unpersuasive, and his 35-page ruling walks through each in turn shooting them down. I’ll be doing a close read of the ruling this afternoon, and will post an update with anything particularly noteworthy in Ferguson’s ruling.

SInce Ferguson’s ruling leaves two issues unresolved, he left the preliminary injunction in place — for now.

This was just Round 1. Ferguson’s ruling today will undoubtedly be appealed to the state Court of Appeals, and most likely to the state Supreme Court after that.