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Arrest made in suspicious package found on steps of Supreme Court, Inslee response to ruling

WASHINGTION, D.C., June 29, 2023—Authorities made an arrest to the incident involving a suspicious package found on the steps of the Supreme Court on Thursday, June 29, shortly after its ruling on race-based college admissions resulting in road closures around the building. Governor Jay Inslee blames “Republican-appointed judges” for “gutting affirmative action policies.”

Shortly before the 10 a.m. PST Supreme Court ruling ending race-based college admission practices, protesters gathered to await the courts decision. Around 10:09 a.m. PST, Capitol Police sent out an alert on Twitter stating they were responding to a suspicious package in the unit block of First Street Southeast. Maryland Avenue between Constitution Avenue and First Street Northeast was closed off as well as First Street between Constitution Avenue Northeast and Independence Avenue Southeast, among other adjacent roads. 

At 12:00 p.m. PST, Capitol Police gave the all-clear, and the streets have since reopened and an arrest was made but Supreme Court police have not released any details about the suspect who was arrested or what was found in the package.

Inslee’s response to Supreme Court Ruling

At 12:29 p.m. PST, Governor Jay Inslee (D-Washington) released the following statement on Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action policies in higher education:

“These Republican-appointed judges have again shown their disdain for well-established principles of American law. They’ve demonstrated they are blind to the fact that our long history of racism contributes to the opportunity barriers ethnic minorities still face today,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

“Our state will continue advancing the cause of equity in higher education and government. As with past rulings from this court that have made our society less equitable for women, people of color, and other marginalized communities, Washington state will respond however necessary to continue advancing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice.”

Washington and eight other states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Nebraska — currently ban race-based college admissions practices.

In January 2022, Gov. Inslee rescinded overly restrictive guidance on affirmative action policies in Washington state in compliance with Initiative 200, giving state agencies tools to identify, document and eradicate discrimination and disparities in their institutions. The November 3, 1998, ballot measure, I-200 filed by Scott Smith and Tim Eyman, prohibited public institutions from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the areas of public education, public employment, and public contracting passed with 58.22% of the vote.

Initiative 1000 was an initiative to the Legislature in 2019 and was approved by the Democratic-controlled Washington State Legislature (56-42 in the House and 26-22 in the Senate) on April 28, 2019, to alter Initiative 200. Initiative 1000 was designed to allow affirmative action without the use of quotas by the state of Washington so that characteristics such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status could be used as factors when considering a person for public education or public employment opportunities.

A veto referendum—Referendum 88—was put on the ballot through a signature petition drive led by members of the AAPI community opposing Initiative 1000. On November 5, 2019, in a statewide vote, Initiative 1000 was rejected 50.56% to 49.44%.

In March of 2022, Gov. Inslee issued an executive order implementing the Office of Equity’s Pro-Equity Anti-Racism (PEAR) plan and playbook across state government to reduce disparities. The agencies’ first PEAR annual performance reports are due to the Office of Equity by September 1 of 2023 and on this day every year thereafter.

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