We May As Well Not Have a Constitution

Today, the Supreme Court published its long awaited ruling on the tax freeze.  It had to rewrite the constitution to do it:

“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 07-199’s 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).

“We conclude that the General Assembly was acting within constitutional limits when it amended the School Finance Act. SB 07-199’s treatment of the school districts as the relevant taxing authorities for purposes of waiving the revenue limits is consistent with the constitutional provisions governing dual state/local funding and the constitutional provisions applicable to public education.  Interpreting article X, section 20’s various provisions harmoniously leads to the conclusion that only one election at the school district level was required in and the local school district elections fulfilled that election requirement.  There is ample evidence to find SB 07-199 constitutional and we find the plaintiffs failed to show it violated any constitutional provision of article X, section 20.”

Note that the Supreme Court has substituted a new standard for what is in the plain text of the state constitution and then used that new standard to find a plainly unconstitutional tax freeze constitutional.

The courts are so far out of control that we might as well not have a constitution in this state.

(Originally published in The Colorado Index on 16 March 2009)

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