Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Mar 18 2008

SEATTLE-- Attorney General Rob McKenna will hold a media availability this morning at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the US Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision upholding the constitutionality of Washington’s Top Two Primary. Secretary of State Sam Reed, who is travelling in Yakima, will join by phone.

10:30 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 18

Attorney General’s Seattle Office, 800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000 in Seattle

Conference Call: (800) 423-1988    Passcode: 1218159

Background: In November 2004, voters approved a “top-two” primary system where the two candidates who receive the most votes in September appear on the General Election ballot in November. Under this system, the political party affiliation of the winning candidates is irrelevant.

On July 15, 2005, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle, ruled that the Top Two Primary violated the political parties’ First Amendment right of free association by allowing any voter, regardless of his or her affiliation to the party, to choose the party’s nominee, and allowing any candidate, regardless of party affiliation or relationship to the party, to self-identify as a member of that party and appear on the primary and general election ballot as a candidate for that party. The Court struck down Initiative 872 in its entirety and specifically stated that Washington return to the pick-a-party primary used in 2004.

On Sept. 22, 2006, Washington state petitioned for a writ of certiorari and on Feb. 26, 2007, the Supreme Court granted it.

The argument took place on Oct. 1, 2007. It was McKenna’s second Supreme Court argument.

For additional information and background, visit:


Transcript of the argument:

SCOTUS 872 Victory



Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; Cell: (360) 584-3046
Trova Heffernan, Secretary of State Communications Director, (360) 902-4140; Cell: (360) 791-7303