May 31, 2008

Ritter's Money Grab Gets Shut Down

A Judge in Denver has ruled unconstitutional Gov. Ritter's "freezing" of property tax valuations as a violation of the Constitutional Amendment known as TABOR.

For the reasons set forth above, the Court concludes that SB-199 isunconstitutional, as measured by the standards of TABOR. Accordingly, the CourtGRANTS Plaintiffs’ request for Declaratory Judgment on this issue, and enters this Orderfinding that SB-199 is unconstitutional. . . .

Further, due in large part to the express statement contained in TABOR § (1),which mandates that these enforcement actions “shall have the highest civil priority ofresolution”, this Court hereby determines that there is no just reason for delay of entry ofJudgment and directs entry of JUDGMENT . . .

Remarkably, the Court itself gave the reason for its judgment:

However well-intentioned and commendable the purpose and consequences of SB-199, this Court must be concerned only with enforcement of the Colorado Constitution. While this Court candidly expresses its concern as to the resulting consequences of this decision, it must nonetheless perform its duties in a manner consistent with its oath to uphold the Constitution.

Imagine that.

Then try to imagine a world in which that last sentence is unnecessary, because it is taken for granted that a judge would "perform its duties" in a Constitutional Manner.

Be warned: this is only round one.

Ritter's spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the state will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court and also ask for a stay of the ruling, so that the state can continue to collect revenue from the mill levy freeze in the next fiscal year.

"It's not a surprise," Dreyer said. "We knew all along that this was going to be decided by the Supreme Court regardless of what happened at the district court level."

Just round 1. But, at least, our side--the small government side--won.

I would expect the CO Supremes to find in the public school section of the Constitution ample justification for overturning this judgment. Something about "compelling interests" and so forth.

Just a guess.

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