County judge dismisses challenge to referendum language in Washington

A Washington judge has dismissed a challenge that contended affirmative-action opponents are making false claims about Initiative 1000 in voter-pamphlet language ahead of the November 5th election.

Proponents of Referendum 88 gathered enough signatures this summer to put the initiative, which was passed by the Legislature earlier this year, up for a public vote. The R-88 campaign argues the new law allows preferential treatment and would also end preferences for veterans.

The language of I-1000, however, says the new law restores affirmative action “without the use of quotas or preferential treatment.” I-1000 was set to take effect July 28th, but is on hold pending the outcome of the referendum.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled Thursday that Washington law regarding defamation challenges to voter pamphlets focuses on how it applies to candidates, not people working on ballot-measure campaigns.

Affirmative action has been illegal in Washington since Initiative 200 was approved by voters in 1998.

I-1000 prohibits using factors such as race as the sole qualifier for an otherwise less-qualified applicant, and also bans mandatory quotas. It permits state agencies to establish diversity goals and timelines, and consider being part of a minority group as a contributing factor for an applicant.

Along with race, I-1000 allows consideration of sex, ethnicity, age, disability, and honorable discharge or military status. It also establishes a commission on equity, diversity, and inclusion to make sure state agencies comply. (AP)

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