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Richard Sanders announces run for state Supreme Court

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
March 22, 2012 7:03 pm

Former Supreme Court justice Richard Sanders, a Vashon Island libertarian who was defeated for re-election in 2010 by Charlie Wiggins after 16 years on the court, had been signaling for a while that he was ready to make a political comeback.

Richard Sanders

He told me in January he was considering a run, and criticized the two Democrats in the nonpartisan race to succeed retiring Justice Tom Chambers, former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg and King County judge Bruce Hilyer. In February he stumped with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. And last week he had supporters fill out a survey with the question:

Should Richard Sanders run for election to the Washington State Supreme Court?

  • Yes – we need a voice of liberty on the Court
  • No – we don’t need a fighter for individual rights on the Court

Unsurprisingly, he jumped today into the race, the fourth candidate after Kitsap County attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud‘s entrance. A November runoff will decide the race unless one of the candidates can reach the 50 percent mark in the August primary.

Sanders immediately took a stand on the court’s most recent hot-button issue, opposing a decision that found traffic cameras are not subject to local initiative power:

On the Court, he gained a reputation for his open government cases and for protecting the people’s right to referendum and initiative.  Sanders pointed to the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision striking down an initiative against red light cameras. “Had I been on the court it would have been 5-4 the other way,” Sanders said.

Here’s his full news release:

Return Richard B. Sanders to the Supreme Court

FORMER JUSTICE OF THE WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT

Former Justice Richard B. Sanders of the Washington Supreme Court announced today his candidacy for the open seat left on the court by retiring Justice Tom Chambers. Justice Sanders served on the court between 1995 and 2011, having been narrowly defeated in 2010 with more than 49.6% of the vote.

“I am seeking election to the court so the citizens of this state can have an experienced jurist who values the rights of private citizens. This is not just another political position to be filled with attack ads and sound bites. We need men and women who will stand on principle to protect the rights of every person—not just the political powerful or the popular,” he said.

During his time on the court Justice Sanders heard over 2,000 cases and wrote opinions in over 600. No other candidate has any appellate judicial experience.

Besides serving on the court he was an adjunct professor at the University of Washington School of Law and wrote scholarly articles. A chapter authored by Sanders in a criminal justice text is taught at Harvard Law School. His opinions were recognized nationwide and were the subject of scholarly debate and recognition.

Sanders’ favorite line in the state constitution provides it is the role of government “to protect and maintain individual rights.” “That’s what I tried to do in every case from the rights of the accused to property rights, from open government to the right to keep and bear arms,” he adds.

He has defended the rights of medical marijuana users and dissented in a case to support the rights of a black man brutally beaten by police. “No one is above the law—especially not the government. One of the most important duties of a justice is to protect private citizens when the government tries to violate their rights,” says Sanders.

On the Court, he gained a reputation for his open government cases and for protecting the people’s right to referendum and initiative. Sanders pointed to the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision striking down an initiative against red light cameras. “Had I been on the court it would have been 5-4 the other way,” Sanders said.

Before his term on the bench, he was a practicing trial attorney in Bellevue. He lives on Vashon Island.

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