Homeowners are asking a court of appeals to stop the City of Seattle from forcing them to fund politicians’ campaigns.
Saying it wanted to encourage more residents to be involved in their city government while helping grassroots candidates, the City of Seattle recently created a Democracy Vouchers program.
Residents receive four taxpayer-funded certificates worth $25 each that they can use to support a candidate running for Seattle City Council or City Attorney. Funding comes from a property levy, and the program aims to expand to include the Mayor’s race in 2021.
Meanwhile, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is representing two property owners who believe the certificates violate their First Amendment rights by sponsoring viewpoints in which they disagree.
“That money comes from a forced property levy – from property owners who may not necessarily agree with the viewpoints of the candidates that they are being forced to essentially contribute to through this campaign funding program,” PLF attorney Ethan Blevins explained in a press release. “We believe that that violates your right not to sponsor viewpoints you disagree with, which is a right that the Supreme Court has consistently recognized under the First Amendment.”
A superior court judge recently upheld the vouchers, but PLC has appealed to the Washington Court of Appeals.
“A lot of Supreme Court precedent has consistently said when government forces you to sponsor viewpoints you disagree with like this one here does – even if it otherwise goes to all Seattle residents to do with as they will – it still forces property owners to express a view they may not want to express … and that violates the First Amendment.”
Oral arguments for the lawsuit are expected in 2018.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.