The Colorado Supreme Court has done it again, showing its disdain for taxpayer protections in the state constitution. From the majority opinion:
When it issued its declaratory judgment order, the district court did not have the benefit of our recent decision in Barber v. Ritter, 196 P.3d 238 (Colo. 2008), in which we held that a statute challenged under article X, section 20 must be proven to be unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court erroneously held that the relevant test of SB 07-199s constitutionality came from the interpretive guideline included in the text of article X, section 20 to reasonably restrain most the growth of government. Applying this erroneous standard, the trial court concluded that: (1) SB 07-199 constitutes a net tax revenue gain to the State of Colorado; (2) SB 07-199 was not a change in state tax policy requiring a statewide vote; (3) voter approval was required under subsection 7(c) of article X, section 20; and (4) the waiver elections held in the local school districts did not satisfy subsection (7)(c).
Let me boil it down for you. The Colorado Supreme Court says:
- We’ve made our own arbitrary rule that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has a higher threshold for being violated by government than the rest of the constitution does.
- This “tax policy change” that Democrat State Treasurer (and SB07-199 architect) Cary Kennedy admitted is a “tax policy change” somehow is not a “tax policy change”
- The state can change tax policy (without it necessarily being a “tax policy change”) that raises local tax revenues, without having to ask voters’ permission
- Voters in local school district elections had the clairvoyance to know their votes would result in the “tax policy change” of SB07-199 that really wasn’t a “tax policy change”
Or let me make it even simpler: “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah! We make the rules! Neener, neener, neener! You have to do what we say! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”
“With loyalist Democrats in charge of the Governor’s mansion, the state House, the state Senate, and the Supreme Court, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is on life support and the principle of fiscal restraint is in full retreat.” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction.
Though my boss Jon Caldara has yet to weigh in.
Over at The Colorado Index, a watcher presents a tactical idea for conservatives to go on the offense in the legal arena. I’m sure other ideas are already forthcoming.
This isn’t the first time I’ve noted the Colorado Supreme Court stretching common sense and a plain reading of the law in service of partisan interests. I don’t know enough about the other 49 states, but there sure seems a compelling case to back up Representative Cory Gardner’s claim that ours is the “most partisan” supreme court in the land.
Even the eminently nonpartisan libertarian writer Ari Armstrong makes the inescapable observation that the Democrats “have now handed the Republicans a real campaign issue for next year.” Very likely so, but I wish it didn’t come at the price of our tax dollars and a further downgrading of our justice system. (To be fair, many of us already are aware of the high court’s blatantly partisan predisposition. But the realization now will be dawning on many more.)
Not everyone on the high court is worthy of scorn: Kudos to Allison Eid, the lone dissenting voice of common sense and constitutional sanity on the Colorado Supreme Court.