Published March 7, 2014 | By CTBC Director
A three-judge panel on the Federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a lawsuit challenging the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment to the Colorado Constitution may proceed, and remanded the case to federal district court to proceed to trial on the merits.
Byron White Courthouse 10th Circuit Denver
The appeals court ruling addressed only the issue of whether the plaintiffs (33 “educators” and legislators who are “mostly Democrats” with a few token “Republicans”) have legal standing to sue, and whether the lawsuit is barred by the “political question” doctrine, and explicitly did not address the merits (or lack thereof; the case has been widely derided as frivolous and groundless) of the lawsuit:
The merits of the case are not before us. We express no view on the substantive issues and intend none. We consider solely standing and the political question doctrine. (Ruling at 6)
Establishing standing to sue requires, first and foremost, that the plaintiff “has suffered a concrete and particular injury in fact that is either actual or imminent” – which the court affirmed for the plaintiffs who are current or former legislators, since
Legislator-plaintiffs contend they have been injured because they are denied the authority to legislate with respect to tax and spending increases. (Ruling at 21)
The more significant element of the appeals court ruling addresses the “political question” doctrine – the issue of whether the claims brought by the lawsuit may properly be addressed by the courts at all.
As a threshold matter, we must decide if the political question doctrine categorically precludesGuarantee Clause challenges against state constitutional amendments adopted by popular vote. (Ruling at 29)
The appeals court concluded that guiding U.S. Supreme Court precedent Continue reading