TABOR challenge: John Suthers to vigorously defend amendment against lawsuit
The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which requires tax increases to be okayed by popular vote, was approved in 1992, meaning that it's been in place for nearly two decades -- and a pain in the neck to legislators for the same amount of time. Now, a coalition of lawmakers and notables have filed suit in federal court to overturn TABOR; read it below. And who'll oppose this effort? None other than Colorado's Attorney General, John Suthers.
"That's historically been our role," says Attorney General's Office spokesman Mike Saccone. "When the voters approve a law or a constitutional provision and it's challenged in court, we vigorously defend those measures, and TABOR is certainly no different."
As such, Suthers will need to counter the claim of plaintiffs including legislators Andy Kerr and Claire Levy plus 32 others that the provision requiring voter approval of tax increases violates the rules of representative government, which calls for elected officials to act on behalf of the citizenry.
Will the length of time TABOR has been functioning factor in to Suthers's strategy? "I don't know if there's any legal issue with when a challenge is brought," Saccone concedes. However, he points out that suits were filed soon after the passage of two other high-profile offerings -- 2006's Amendment 41, which banned public officials from accepting gifts worth more than $50, and 2008's Amendment 54, a campaign-contribution measure. The latter was ruled unconstitutionally vague the following year.
As of this morning, the attorney general's office had yet to be formally served with the lawsuit. "That's typically the starting point for planning how a suit will proceed," Saccone says. "We are aware of the lawsuit, and we're going to talk to the plaintiffs and figure out how service will work -- or whether we'll waive service. But it's premature at this point to talk about a schedule."
Whatever the case, the suit's progress is sure to be watched closely in Colorado and nationwide. Below, find the entire document, along with a copy of James Madison's "Federalist No. 10," which backers of the challenge see as supporting their argument.
More from our Politics archive: "John Suthers declares newly passed health-care plan unconstitutional."