Paul Jacob

Of course, if the political elite were to win in federal court it could implicate not only Colorado statutes and constitutional amendments passed by citizen petition, but those in the other 23 states that permit citizens to propose and vote on issues.

The good news is that the suit stands little chance of success. Nearly a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, a case challenging that state’s ballot initiative process, that the sufficiency of a state government’s republican form is not a judicial question at all, but up to the Congress to determine.

Moreover, according to retired law professor Rob Natelson, author of The Original Constitution, “The truth is that the Founders repeatedly recognized direct citizen lawmaking as consistent with republican government.” Scott Moss, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Colorado, called the lawsuit “non-frivolous” but admitted the politicians are “asking the court to make new law.”

While The Denver Post reported last Wednesday that one plaintiff, former state Sen. Mike Feeley (D-Lakewood), had agreed “the case could have wider repercussions” than simply invalidating the TABOR initiative, Feeley quickly backtracked, telling columnist Fred Brown, “It is a rifle-shot argument aimed at TABOR.”

But whether the goal of this cabal of career spenders-turned-litigants is to entirely destroy the ability of citizens to check government power through voter initiatives or it is simply to assassinate one particular initiative that blocks their profligate propensities is really beside the point. What is clear, either way, is that these 34 politically powerful Coloradans believe citizens should not be in control of their government.

Norma Anderson, a former Republican legislative leader and one of twelve Republican plaintiffs, said that the Taxpayers Bill of Rights initiative “has prevented the legislative body from representing the people when it comes to fiscal matters.” How? By giving the people a vote. In other words, legislators should “represent” the people, but never should the people be allowed to represent themselves . . . at least, not when it concerns the power of politicians to reach into the pockets and purses of, uh, the people.

Or put another way, these politicians’ view of a republican form of government is one in which the citizens shut up and pay their taxes.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.