Colorado Supreme Court Cases/Decisions
Colorado Supreme Court decisions (by category)
Taxation without Representation:
Mesa County Board of County Commissioners vs. State of Colorado (Mill Levy Tax “Freeze” case)
Bottom Line: The ruling majority upheld an unconstitutional tax increase (“tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain“) on property taxes; deprived Colorado citizens of their constitutional right to a vote on tax increases; and retroactively made liars of local government officials who had promised no tax increase from “de-brucing.” The tax rate “freeze” actually locks in additional property tax increases (“an escalator tied to inflating housing values”) in future years that will outpace growth in personal income (hitting those on fixed incomes especially hard). Also buried in the ruling: eliminating constitutional protections for existing tax credits and exemptions.
Mesa County Board of County Commissioners vs. State of Colorado (Mill Levy Tax Freeze) District Court ruling by Judge Christina M. Habas (30 May 2008)
Barber vs. Ritter (the “November Surprise” “fees are not taxes” case; ruled that fees collected for one specific purpose, but transferred later to other (general) purposes – like funds collected from a tax - are not in violation of the TABOR requirement to receive prior voter approval for “any tax policy change… resulting in a net revenue gain”)
Bottom Line: The Colorado Supreme Court essentially erased the distinction between taxes (collecting funds available for general purpose, but subject to a vote of the people before increases) – and fees (collecting funds for a specific purpose, and NOT subject to a vote of the people before being imposed or increased). This ruling enabled a massive increase in the number and amount of “fees” collected by state government – including the Colorado Car Tax, quadrupling of marriage license “fees”, Ritter’s proposed new Gun Tax, etc. etc.
Bloom vs. City of Fort Collins (Dec. 18, 1989) established criteria for fees, including: “Funds generated by special assessment [fees] cannot be diverted to other purposes”; “Amount of special fee must be reasonably related to overall costs of particular governmental services being supported”; and “Provision… which authorized… transfer any excess revenues collected… to any other fund… had effect of transforming fee into impermissible tax.”
Town of Telluride vs. San Miguel Valley Corp. (“Telluride Land Grab” case)
Bottom Line: The majority ruling in this case upheld the exercise of eminent domain by the town of Telluride over property OUTSIDE the town limits. The upshot of the ruling is that ANY home rule entity (municipality) can exercise eminent domain ANYWHERE in the state. Also, the ruling ignored a law passed by the Colorado Legislature expressly prohibiting or limiting extraterritorial condemnations. Again, the court took over the function of the legislature, and undermined the rule of law and government accountability to the people.
Usurping Power & Authority:
Salazar vs. Davidson (CO Supreme Court usurped General Assembly on Congressional Redistricting)
Bottom Line: In a stunning display of circular logic, the Colorado Supreme Court declared itself part of the General Assembly in order to redraw congressional districts to its own liking – despite the clear words of the Colorado Constitution declaring this the exclusive power of the legislature (“General Assembly shall… reapportion districts”). The court broke the law by declaring that its word was law – what I say goes, in a stunning power grab.
Contemporary Commentary on the case (“Supremes use semantic gymnastics“)
Lobato v. State of Colorado (CO Supremes claim legislative power to set school funding levels)
Bottom Line: The majority ruling in this case usurped the authority of the legislative branch to decide questions of policy (vs. law) regarding educational funding. The majority violated the Constitution’s separation of powers, usurping legislative authority in yet another stunning power grab. With this decision the Mullarkey Majority has again asserted its power to unilaterally decide ALL political questions in this state…
Colorado Education Association v. Rutt. (No. 06SC559) (May 2008 case allowing Unions to coordinate campaign activities in violation of campaign finance law)