Lawsuit challenging TABOR moves forward

lawsuitTuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit denied the governor’s request to rehear his claim that the plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge to TABOR should be dismissed on procedural grounds.

In March, a three judge panel of the 10th Circuit unanimously decided the case should proceed to trial. Tuesday’s ruling upheld that decision.

As the governor’s lawyer, Attorney General John Suthers appealed the ruling from the U.S. District Court that had denied Suthers’ motion to dismiss the case on procedural grounds.

The two procedural grounds were whether the plaintiffs have standing and whether the claim violates the guarantee claim.

Those two issues were appealed.

One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, David Skaggs said, “We’re eager to get to the merits. What does the guarantee of a republican form of government mean? We think it means at least that you have to have a legislature with the power to fund the operations of state government.

“And TABOR violates the core.”

The next step may involve an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Skaggs said.

“It’s unusual for the Supreme Court to take a case at this stage, but not unheard of,” Skaggs said.

Carolyn Tyler, public information officer for Suthers’ office said, “We never pre-announce the next step. We have a range of options.”

By a margin of 57 percent in 1992, state voters amended the constitution by approving the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Colorado Springs resident Douglas Bruce wrote and promoted the amendment.

In addition to limiting government spending, the TABOR law requires a vote of the people before any new taxes can be levied at the state and local levels.

In a joint statement, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs said, “Now with the procedural objections resolved and three rulings in the plaintiffs’ favor, we hope the case can proceed without delay and without an expensive additional appeal to the Supreme Court.”

In addition to Gov. John Hickenlooper, other plaintiffs include a bipartisan coalition of 33 plaintiffs, including five state legislators, 13 other office holders and several former state and local government officials from both parties.