TABOR opponents clear first judicial hurdle

Tue, Jul 31, 2012


TABOR worshippers beware: the bipartisan plot to have the Douglas Bruce authored 1992 tax limitation amendment to the Colorado constitution declared unconstitutional passed its first hurdle yesterday in Denver district court.

According to a press release from the leading plotters, who claim to be a “bi-partisan coalition of 33 plaintiffs, including five state legislators, 13 other current office holders, and several former state and local government officials from both parties,” District Judge William Martinez rejected the Attorney General’s attempt to use procedural grounds to throw out a case challenging the constitutionality of the Taxpayer Bills of Rights (TABOR) law limiting the powers of the state legislature as well as county commissions, city councils and school boards. The case will now proceed to trial.

“We now look forward to having our day in court to show why TABOR violates the nation’s most fundamental principles and hopefully to move us closer to restoring representative democracy in Colorado,” said David Skaggs, a former congressman and state legislator and one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.

The suit argues that TABOR, by voiding the legislature’s power to levy taxes, violates the constitutional guarantee of representative democracy.

It’ll be interesting to see how the suit is decided, to say the least. Colorado courts, while generally respectful of voter-initiated constitutional amendments, have often appeared to sympathize with those who claim that TABOR is both badly written and unduly restrictive.

Whatever the outcome in the lower courts, it’s virtually certain that the case will be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court – and then what?

If the court upholds TABOR, that’ll like end it. If not, it’ll go to the United States Supreme Court, where the five conservative justices will find themselves in a nice pickle.

Do you respect state’s rights, and let the decision stand? Do you vote to overturn, thereby endorsing voter nullification of constitutional guarantees? You can bet that Roberts & Co. love TABOR’s effects, but you can assume that they’d rather not get into the measure’s constitutionality, or lack thereof.

The gang of 33 are blessed with free legal services from a covey of Denver power attorneys. TABOR supporters are not so fortunate. Douglas Bruce, apparently busy with other matters, has not offered to represent the defendants, who will have to settle for the services of our capable Attorney General, John Suthers.

Love it or hate it, TABOR is part of the Constitution, and the A.G. is obliged to defend it – and it may cost plenty. If it goes all the way to the Supreme Court, it’ll be a legal goat rope beyond imagining. Expect amicus briefs from every well-funded lefty and righty group in the nation.

Memo to constitutional lawyers: chortle, cackle, rub your hands together! The future is bright – big paydays are ahead! And don’t wait too long-call Americans for Prosperity now. The Koch brothers will still have plenty of cash, even if Romney loses.

If you really want to know more, pleadings and court orders can be found on


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. chad Says:

    “The suit argues that TABOR, by voiding the legislature’s power to levy taxes, violates the constitutional guarantee of representative democracy.”

    It does not void the legislature’s power to levy taxes. It merely requires them to get consent from the governed in order to do so. What we’re really seeing here is an out of control government that doesn’t like its leash. Tough.