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Citizen Initiatives Under Attack in Colorado

IP-5-96 (February 1996)
Author: Paul Grant

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  • Frustrated old-time politicians are taking desperate steps to resist citizen involvement in the legislative process.
  • Responsible government officials will try to make the process of change as non-disruptive as possible.
  • The constitutionally protected rights of referendum and initiative are described as “reserved powers of the people”; these are not rights given by the legislature the courts, or the executive.
  • The legislature has imposed a permanent Veto on the referendum process, in open defiance of the Colorado Constitution.
  • In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state of Colorado had arbitrarily and excessively acted to restrict constitutionally protected free speech rights protected by the First Amendment.
  • Ignoring 100 years of their own judicial precedents, the Colorado Supreme Court has decided that the single subject requirement will be applied more strictly to initiatives than legislative bills.
  • By intruding into the legislative process of the initiative, the supreme court has violated the constitutional provisions of “Separation of Powers.”
  • The actions of the General Assembly and the Colorado Supreme Court show that they will disregard constitution protections when the people challenge long-established government power.