In To Protect and Maintain Individual Rights, Jonathan Bechtle and Michael Reitz provide a section by section analysis of the Washington Constitution’s Declaration of Rights. The authors review the state’s 1889 constitutional debates, contemporary accounts of the convention, and significant cases that have dealt with the rights guaranteed in the Washington Constitution. The book includes a foreword by Washington Supreme Court Justice Charles Johnson.

A 2006 survey found that only twenty-five percent of Americans can name more than one freedom protected by the First Amendment. Twenty percent of those polled actually thought the right to own a pet was protected. Yet more than half of these adults could name at least two characters from a popular television cartoon. If familiarity with the U.S. Constitution is lacking, awareness of the provisions of the state constitution is deplorable.

Bechtle and Reitz urge citizens to become familiar with their state constitution, as individual rights are often afforded greater protection from the state constitution than from the U.S. Constitution. “When citizens are educated in the sources of their freedoms, and familiar with attempts in history to limit these freedoms, they are better equipped to recognize new encroachments.”

Jonathan Bechtle is CEO of the Freedom Foundation. He has testified before Congress as an expert on election law, and his research has been published and cited by the Washington Times, the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, World Magazine, and numerous other media outlets. He earned his J.D. from Oak Brook College of Law, and is a member of the California and Washington bars. Hometown is Lacey, Washington.

Michael J. Reitz is general counsel of the Freedom Foundation, and has represented the Foundation and other clients in cases addressing election law, free speech rights, government accountability, and property rights. He is a member of the Washington and California bars and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Hometown is Lacey, Washington.

What They Are Saying:

“The Freedom Foundation should be commended for this clear guide to our Constitution, providing a concise reference guide which will enable Washington’s people, from whom the government derives its power, to guard their rights from future challenges.”—Rob McKenna, Attorney General of Washington

“I know and appreciate the incredible amount of thought, research and work necessary to produce this citizen’s guide. The authors are to be commended for their efforts in putting this work together. Those who read and use this guide can be thankful for the time and energy spent on organizing and publishing it.”—Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson, Washington State Supreme Court

“The wisdom of this book serves as a high standard against which we ought to judge our judges.”
Justice Richard B. Sanders, Washington State Supreme Court