Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Voucher Supporters: Court Ruling Could Have Been Worse

Freshman Legislator, Kay McIff(R) isn't off to the most conservative start at the Utah House of Representatives. McIff is lockstep with another Republican of questionable conservative credentials, Sheryl Allen, and ranks under the top three most conservative Democrats.

Before I'm accused of breaking the eleventh commandment, I'll take a divergent course and talk about vouchers and which tactics are intellectually honest. McIff had suggested, before the Supreme Court offered clarification, that the legislature ought to take care of the voucher issue by forgetting that they ever had passed an amendment.

Reasonable people, have, and will disagree about this idea. The ultimate result of the court decision accomplished nearly what McIff had suggested. I say nearly, because the amendment comes back if the voters support the primary voucher law in November. Under McIff's proposal it would not. But, the court's motives and purpose were also different than McIff and his cohorts. The court argued that the amendment could not stand alone due to a question of process, not a question of outcome. The Supreme Court did not, or should not, care whether or not vouchers are ultimately passed. The court ought not to consider whether the law is nice, but only whether it is constitutional.

McIff, it appears, had a different idea about why the second amendment bill should be eliminated. His reason, it seems clear, was to make the voucher law a better target for those who wish to kill it.

I have two reasons that support the above assertion. One, the amendment bill was passed to satisfy the demands of those now opposed to the voucher law. (Suddenly they want to get rid of it?) Two, under McIff's plan, the voucher law would have been less palatable then it is now under the courts ruling. McIff is openly opposed to the voucher law, and wants its repeal.

So, despite what some might say, the supreme court decision was not a clear win for voucher opponents. The next battle will be decided, very clearly, at the ballot box in November.

Note: I have previously praised McIff for taking the high road, and I'm open to the possibility of praising him once again.


Jeremy said...

I agree with you that the court ruling could have been worse for voucher supporters.

I actually wonder why voucher supporters would consider any part of the court ruling a loss. The fact that the public now gets an up or down vote on a voucher plan that if instituted will contain the important provisions from the amendment bill is a win for everyone.

The only reason anyone would consider last week's decision a loss is if they desired to attempt an end run around the will of Utah's voters.

Tyler Farrer said...

You're absolutely right. It's just that opponents to vouchers were so quick to call it a victory--I think s o they could embarrass the A.G. that I use the modest terminology, 'could have been worse'.

It is better for both parties that the voters will now know what their vote does to vouchers.

Jeremy said...

I think voucher opponents were quick to call the decision a victory because we were faced with a group of Republican legislators and voucher lobbyists who openly announced their intention to take the decision on vouchers away from voters based on a dubious legal technicality. This was bad policy and even worse public relations. There were voucher activists who had a reason to be embarrassed by the Utah Supreme Court’s unanimous refutation of their position on the two bill problem and yes...Shurtleff was one of them.

If voucher opponents were to take similarly underhanded measures to force their policy preference on Utahns (as you seem to be accusing McIff of attempting) I'd be just as outraged.

My point is that the two bill dilemma introduced issues that were far more important than whether or not Utah has vouchers. The decision decisively dealt with those issues and I consider that a victory for everyone…even those who were guilty of supporting the policy of disenfranchising voters on the issue of vouchers.

Jesse Harris said...

I think the call to repeal HB 174 centered around the concern that if HB 148 if overturned, legislators might try implementing HB 174 anyway. I was personally more in favor of attaching a "poison pill" to the bill to get rid of it based on the November vote. Now that the courts have cleared that mess up, it's a moot point.

Natalie said...

Tyler, I think you misunderstand McIff's point. As I read it (and I must admit, I'm coming off a week of not-a-lot-of-sleep at Girl's Camp) McIff was saying that the ammendment shouldn't stand if the original bill is negated due to the referendum. Is there something more? I read his comments in the Trib, and they seem much less sinister than you're saying.

Also, don't worry about the 11th commandment. Some Republicans think that a comparison to Sheryl Allen and a comment that he isn't off to the most conservative start are actually compliments. I know, I takes all kinds!