Kerr vs. Hickenlooper update

TABOR Committee members and TABOR friends,

This morning saw an important step in a case that threatens the very existence of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  The development should be good news for our side.

As a reminder – current and former members of the state legislature (and others) sued in federal court alleging that TABOR removes legislators’ ability to “govern effectively.”  The case to declare TABOR unconstitutional is defended by the Colorado Attorney General.  Although the Plaintiffs claim to target only TABOR, if their legal theory were to win, all restrictions on the powers of legislators that came into being through initiated ballot issues would be threatened.  The possible mischief by unguided, unlimited legislators would be essentially unbounded.  The TABOR Foundation was one group to file a “friend of the court” brief to support the defense of TABOR.  Very central to the current status is the Defendant’s argument that some issues may be decided only in the political realm; that interference by the judicial branch is constitutionally inappropriate.  Both a liberal trial judge and a liberal panel of judges in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals were ready to allow the federal court to hear the merits of the case.  Acting to protect TABOR, the Defendant filed a request to the US Supreme Court for it to rule on whether the case should proceed.

The US Supreme Court granted the review (“certiorari”) in light of a decision released yesterday regarding whether a citizen initiative in Arizona could change how redistricting is handled.  It remanded the case back to the 10th Circuit Court to reconsider its ruling.

Yesterday’s opinion included the following:  “The Framers may not have imagined the modern initiative process in which the people’s legislative power is coextensive with the state legislature’s authority, but the invention of the initiative was in full harmony with the Constitution’s conception of the people as the font of governmental power.”

The first paragraph of the Colorado Constitution section on the Legislative Branch includes these words, “…but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution…..,” so there is a long standing certainty that citizens are in charge, not just electing which masters may rule over them.

This message is necessarily very short.  If you want to know more about the effects of the decision, please see our web site,

Penn Pfiffner

TABOR Committee Chairman


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