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Colorado Taxpayer Urge Upholding Ruling That Killed Endless TABOR Lawsuit

Dec 04, 2017 | by William Perry Pendley

DENVER, CO.  Colorado taxpayers, defending their right to have the final say regarding new taxes imposed upon them, today urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to uphold the ruling of a federal district court that various political subdivisions (eight school districts, a county commission, and a special district) cannot challenge the constitutionality of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).  This marks yet another step in litigation against the rights of Coloradans that has been ongoing since 2011.  For six years, individual Colorado legislators, elected officials, school districts, and others have argued unsuccessfully they have the standing necessary to challenge TABOR, which amended the Colorado Constitution by a vote of the people in 1992.

After the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the Tenth Circuit’s determination that the individual legislators had the ability to challenge TABOR, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Tenth Circuit ruled the individual legislators did not represent the will of the Colorado Legislature, as a whole, and therefore did not have the standing necessary to challenge TABOR.  The individual legislators then amended their complaint to add the political subdivisions, in an effort to bring their TABOR challenge back from the dead.  The May 2017 ruling of a Colorado federal district court, however, found the political subdivisions also lack the standing necessary to challenge TABOR. 

“As the late Justice Scalia observed often, it is not so much the Bill of Rights that ensures our liberties as Americans, but instead the Constitution, its separation of powers, and checks and balances,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents the Colorado Union of Taxpayers and itself.  “Overturning the ruling below would do great damage to the Founders’ remarkable creation.”   

Mountain States Legal Foundation and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers—a nonprofit, public-interest group that educates on the dangers of excessive taxation, regulation and government spending and protects citizens’ right to petition government—have challenged the legislator and political subdivision’s attack on TABOR from the beginning.  “Mountain States Legal Foundation has filed numerous amicus briefs with the Tenth Circuit and the Supreme Court, on behalf of its clients, highlighting the need to respect the will of Coloradans, and the importance of the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary,” said Steven J. Lechner, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation. 

Mountain States Legal Foundation, created in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.

For more information:  Kerr v. Hickenlooper


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