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Dori: Seattle garbage ruling shows constitution still trumps social causes

Utility bills in Seattle, which are already rising, could jump even more than expected. (AP)
LISTEN: Attorney explains why judge ruled against Seattle garbage ordinance

Seattle city leaders pushing for social causes is nothing new. But a King County court ruling Wednesday showed KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that the constitution still rules.

“It’s unbelievable that the city thought they could get away with this, but the constitution still matters,” Dori said.

King County Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus declared Wednesday that Seattle’s ordinance which allows garbage collectors to look through people’s trash to ensure food scraps aren’t mixing with trash is “unconstitutional and void.” The city planned to give garbage collectors the duty of issuing citations if they found more than 10 percent of an individual’s trash included food or recyclables.

Ethan Blevins, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, which won the legal challenge, said the judge ruled that idea of deputizing garbage collectors and allowing them to hunt through your garbage was illegal.

“We think that’s a violation of privacy,” he said. “Regardless of whether or not they fine you, our concern is that on a weekly basis they are collecting information about you by searching through your trash.”

Related: Senator: State auditor should resign, gives elected officials a ‘black eye’

Blevins said the ordinance violated the state constitutional privacy rights, noting that Washington has a unique and special right of privacy that is similar to the Fourth Amendment, but even more robust.

Blevins said the city also never really explained how the collectors planned to track the disposal with any accuracy.

“About as good as it got is they’re training materials said the garbage collectors should use their good judgment,” he said. “And I don’t think people’s privacy rights should hang on the good judgment of enforcers.”

Dori says city leaders seem to solely believe in righteousness of their “extremism” and don’t care if it follows anything else.

“What feels right in the minds of so many people around here, including politicians, is more important than what is right,” he said. “And constitutional rights are absolutes. And your touchy-feeliness doesn’t trump it. I’d know you’d love it too, but it doesn’t. Yet.”

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