Paul Jacob

Representative government is indeed a key feature of republican government. But, though virtually forgotten in our modern times, actually representing the will of the people is the entire point of that representative system. Folks back in 1776, just as today, had farms and jobs and families to take care of and didn’t have the time to make every decision affecting public policy or managing the minutiae of running government. So, they chose a few to represent the many.

Representatives are servants, not kings. At least, that was the original idea. As James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, put it, the people are “the fountain of all power.” Apparently, once politicians get drunk on power they want to turn off that fountain.

This lawyerly attack on citizen control of government is silly and sophomoric, but it is also extremely dangerous.

“Special interests can employ this theory,” warns constitutional scholar Rob Natelson, “to destroy well-founded and long-standing safeguards against legislative fiscal abuse. Furthermore, they can use the same theory to attack the voter initiative and referendum process, and other constitutional limits on the power of state politicians.”

No court has yet ruled on the merits of the case, or the obvious lack thereof. But a federal district court judge decided state legislators do have standing to bring the lawsuit. That ruling was appealed to the 10th Circuit, which recently agreed with the district court that these politicians can sue the people of Colorado over the legislators’ “right” to tax and spend without a bunch of pesky voters getting in the way.

Those who founded our republican form of government would be absolutely astounded that today’s politicians would have the temerity to bring such a suit, much less that modern judges would allow it to proceed . . . if those Founders could only be stopped, first, from spinning in their graves at such high rates of speed.

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.