Judging Colorado’s Supreme Court Justices (5 Letters)

“The headline of your article in reference to the retention of four Colorado Supreme Court justices effectively makes it an issue, whether it is or not.”Actually, for once, the Denver Post is reporting news, not making it. The “retention of four Colorado Supreme Court justices” is already very much an issue this election year – in fact, it is THE issue in Colorado elections this year.Over the last month, the legislative session has been dominated by news about the “Dirty Dozen” tax increase bills that owe their very existence to an expansive interpretation of language in last year’s notorious “Mill Levy Tax Freeze” ruling (that upheld an unconstitutional – and permanently upward-ratcheted – property tax increase). That ruling also provided the legalistic pretense for the legislative action to impose tax increases (via the mechanism of repealing existing tax credits and exemptions – still a “tax policy change resulting in a net revenue gain) in violation of the TABOR requirement to receive prior voter approval.Other legislative actions, such as last year’s unconstitutional repeal of the Arveschoug-Bird 6% limit on the growth of general fund spending and the passage of the most unpopular tax increase in Colorado history (the FASTER car tax – er, registration “fee” increase) are also directly tied to the current Colorado Supreme Court’s consistent disregard for (if not active hostility towards) those sections of the Colorado Constitution (i.e. TABOR) with which they do not personally agree.The Mullarkey Court’s predilection for usurping legislative power and authority is not restricted to re-writing law. They have also taken it upon themselves to claim the authority to determine the correct level of taxation and spending (constitutionally, powers reserved to the legislative branch) for school funding, and have also usurped the authority of the legislature to draw up Colorado congressional districts following the 2000 Census – a pattern which is likely to be repeated if these same justices remain in power following the upcoming 2010 Census.Even the executive branch (gubernatorial) elections in Colorado are dominated by the same themes, due to soon-to-be-former Governor Ritter’s inextricable connection with the “Mill Levy Tax Freeze” property tax increase, the ‘FASTER’ Car Tax (er, “fee”) increase, the “Dirty Dozen” tax increase bills, and countless other proposed “fee” increases in violation of the Colorado Constitution (TABOR) requirement to first obtain voter approval for increases.From the litany of tax increases through erosion of property rights and other constitutional (and statutory) protections and looking forward to the post-Census reapportionment and redistricting processes – there is NO area of policy (and politics) unaffected by the Colorado Supreme Court.That is why the MOST IMPORTANT votes that can be cast by Colorado citizens in this very important election year are four “NO” votes in the retention election of the Colorado Supreme Court justices subject to voter approval this year.It is also why voters must be provided with more extensive, informative, and useful information on which to base their voting decisions. “The high marks received by each justice through the system of evaluation in place” are NOT an endorsement of the justices, but rather an indictment of the weakness and inadequacy of the judicial performance review process (as noted in a previous Denver Post guest commentary article). Despite the genuinely hard work and good intentions of the majority of the judicial performance review commissioners, the process (and end-products) are perhaps endemically flawed.There has been a failure of real performance evaluation and a lack of analytical content in the write-ups for the voters. If narratives provide meaningful information about how a justice has decided cases, there will be accountability and the system will work as it is designed to do. Too often in the past, narratives have amounted to complimentary resumes instead of job performance evaluations. Some commentators and observers have denigrated the narratives as a “rubber stamp” exercise for retaining judges.The ultimate responsibility – and authority – rests with the voters. Clear The Bench Colorado urges all Colorado citizens to become informed about how the Colorado Supreme Court has aided and abetted assaults on their rights (and wallets!) with a consistent pattern of not following the Constitution where it doesn’t agree with their own agenda – and drawing the necessary and logical conclusions.Clear The Bench, Colorado! (http://www.clearthebenchcolorado.org)

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Source : http://blogs.denverpost.com/eletters/2010/02/20/judging-colorado’s-supreme-court-justices-5-letters/8236/

Judging Colorado’s Supreme Court justices (5 letters)
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