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Olympia Fly-In Day 2: González provides insight into Hirst and McCleary decisions

Day two of the Joint Chamber Olympia Fly-in began with Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven González addressing the group over breakfast. González emphasized the importance of an informed electorate when it comes to elections of justices. One-third of registered voters in the state leave the Supreme Court candidate selection blank.

González provided his thoughts on the legal background of the two most notable court cases facing the state: the Hirst decision and the McCleary decision.

Regarding the Hirst decision, González highlighted that water is a property, and consequently, the Hirst decision came down to property law precedent. And that before drilling for a well, someone must determine whose water it is. That determination, González believes, is a function of the executive branch. Justice González didn’t feel it was the courts responsibility to step in, but only did so because the legislature did not adequately address who should make the determination.

The McCleary decision came down the same month González joined the bench six years ago. While he wasn’t involved in the ruling, he did express his belief that access to education for children is a positive right. As such, children have the right for it to be enforced, he said.

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