Lawsuit seeks reopening of Washington state Capitol grounds

Washington State Patrol troops and National Guard outside the Capitol Campus in Olympia, WA on Sunday. Photo courtesy: Washington State Patrol

A Washington man filed a lawsuit demanding the restoration of public access to the state Capitol and surrounding grounds.

Tyler Miller’s lawsuit seeks a court order for the state to remove temporary chain link fences around the Capitol campus in Olympia and restore public access to viewing galleries in the Legislative Building, Kitsap Sun reported Sunday.

The 40-year-old Bremerton resident and U.S. Navy veteran said he filed the lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court "because keeping the public out of the legislative building while the Legislature is in session is unconstitutional."

The lawsuit also seeks an injunction against future action resulting in restriction of public access to the state Capitol.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Department of Enterprise Services Director Chris Liu are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Inslee closed legislative facilities to the public in March as part of a COVID-19 emergency order.

The emergency services department closed a large section of the Capitol campus and erected temporary fences following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Emergency services department spokeswoman Linda Kent said in an email that the "extended security measures" are in place to ensure the safety of state lawmakers, officials and employees.