The long-thwarted plans of a pair of Stehekin brothers to run a modest ferry service on Lake Chelan could be the lever that lets the Supreme Court spell out more clearly when and how government can abridge your “privileges and immunities” — in other words, when can government tell you what you cannot do. The navigable waters of our great and beautiful lake may yet flow through the Supreme Court docket, and produce a significant legal precedent.
Jim and Cliff Courtney, their ferry plans knocked down by the state of Washington, and the federal District Court, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on Monday filed their petition for review with the United States Supreme Court. These things often amount to nothing, but now and again have the possibility of becoming, to use layman’s terms, a pretty big deal. Consider, all that Cascadian Hotel chambermaid Elsie Parrish wanted was a raise to $14.50 a week, and her effort climaxed in the landmark 1937 decision in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish that turned judicial thinking upside down and made our minimum wage laws possible. Will Courtney v. Danner have significance, or will it fizzle and fade like so many other efforts? We will soon know the degree of fizzling. The Supreme Court may decide whether to take the case by late May.