We didn’t get a chance to get to this earlier, but comments by U.S. District Judge William Martinez yesterday could be the first step in the eventual overturning of TABOR. Tim Hoover of the Denver newspaper reports that Martinez disagreed with a key argument from the defense — in this case, the Colorado Attorney General’s office — that sought to throw out a lawsuit based on an old Oregon ruling regarding state initiatives versus a constitutional right to a “republican form of government.”
Joe Hanel of The Durango Herald elaborates:
Lawyers for the state argued that U.S. District Judge William Martinez should throw the case out because it’s a political question not suited for the courts. They pinned their argument on a 100-year-old case from Oregon.
But Martinez made clear at the beginning of the hearing that he disagreed that the Oregon case applied to the TABOR lawsuit. The judge quizzed Assistant Attorney General Megan Paris Rundlet with a hypothetical situation.
“What if tomorrow, a ballot started to be circulated for the abolition of the Colorado Legislature? And what if, given how popular legislatures are these days … it passed?” Martinez said.
Rundlet paused, and then said the current case law would bar courts from overturning such a ballot measure.
It is certainly too early to point to any potential decision, which Judge Martinez said could be months down the line, but our understanding is that yesterday’s proceedings absolutely did not go well for TABOR backers.
On a separate note, Judge Martinez probably just gave the Tea Party an idea for their next ballot measure.