Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1951 No. 435 - January 24, 1951
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CONSTITUTIONS -- CONSTRUCTION OF

Constitutional provisions must be construed together to give effect to all provisions.

                                                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 January 24, 1951

Honorable William C. Goodloe
Washington State Senate
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 435

Dear Mr. Goodloe:

            You have requested whether the following provision of Senate Joint Resolution No. 7, proposed amendment to Article II, section 1, of the Washington Constitution reading:

            "(a) Initiative.  The first power reserved by the people is the initiative.  Ten per centum, but in no case more than fifty thousand, of the legal voters shall be required to propose any measure by such petition, * * *"

            is inconsistent with Senate Joint Resolution No. 4, proposed amendment to Washington Constitution, Article II, section 41:

            "Section 41.  Hereafter the number of valid signatures required upon a petition for an initiative measure shall be equal to ten per cent of the number of voters registered for the last preceding general election."

            Our conclusion is:

            The provisions may logically be construed as consistent.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            If both measures are enacted into law, each will be of the same weight and importance.  One cannot be construed to either amend or to control the other.  Necessarily, they must be construed together to give effect to all language contained therein.

            The legal effect would be that the ten per cent of proposed Article II, section 1 (a) "legal voters" would be measured by proposed Article II, section 41, of the "legal voters registered for the last general election."  Both, of course, would be modified by the further condition of proposed Article II, section 1 (a) "but in no case more than fifty thousand."

            Washington authorities on this matter are: State v. Parmenter, 50 Wash. 164, 178, 96 Pac. 1047, 19 L.R.A. (N.S.) 707 (1908); Chlopeck Fish Co. v. City of Seattle, 64 Wash. 315, 117 Pac. 232 (1911); andSears v. Western Thrift Stores of Olympia, 10 Wn. (2d) 372, 382, 116 P. (2d) 756 (1941).  At page 322 ‑ 323 of theChlopeck opinion the court states:

            "It is a fundamental principle, applicable in the construing of all written laws, and especially in construing a document of the gravity of the constitution, that if possible an effect must be given and a meaning accorded to all of the words used therein.  We have no more authority to eliminate the words * * *."

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

JENNINGS P. FELIX
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo