A group of Colorado liberal Democrats (with a few useful Republicans thrown in) is challenging the constitutionality of Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights – an amendment passed in the early 90s that limits spending and taxing – in Federal court. The consequence may be the elimination of all state initiatives in the United States.
The suit alleges that TABOR, which prohibits the legislature from raising taxes without a vote of the people, limits the General Assembly's power in violation of the U.S. Constitution guarantee that states have a "republican" government, in which the authority to govern is given to elected officials.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll be successful. But if any and all direct democracy is outlawed in states and TABOR is overturned, then all initiatives and Constitutional Amendments added by the people, a regular occurrence in Western states, could also be retroactively overturned.
Most often I tend to dislike direct democracy, but having lived in Colorado for seven years, I realize that, 1.) TABOR has been hugely successful in instilling fiscal responsibility in irresponsible lawmakers and mitigating the fiscal problems of Colorado. You can raise taxes. All you have to is ask. (The United States could use a TABOR.) and, 2.) The initiative process often balances the power of elected legislatures. The Founders argued for streams of democracy to create some equilibrium in Federalist Papers.
Setting aside the legal and political debate on the issue, it's educational to look at the bald-faced hypocrites behind these kinds of power grabs. It’s interesting that most, if not all, of the signees to this suit support Obamacare, which is a direct attack on federalism.
But more immediately, Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, who is leading the fight for federalism in this case, is the same Andy Kerr who sponsored a bill a few years that would have helped eliminate one of the most unique and indispensible features of federalism: the Electoral College.
This from a March 2009 Vincent Carroll column :
"Every vote by each and every American should count equally," says Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, sponsor of a bill that would cast Colorado's electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote no matter who prevailed here — so long as states with a majority of electoral votes pulled the same stunt.
The same guy who claims that, "Every vote by each and every American should count equally," and once wrote the “popular vote of the people” is a “basic assumption we all hold dear” is suddenly a Federalist? Unlikely. More likely Kerr is frustrated that he has to ask citizens if he can raise taxes -- which is un-American, darn it.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the Taxpayers Bill of Rights should visit the Independence Institute.