U.S. Supreme Court to hear lawsuit filed against Colorado's TABOR law

Mark K. Matthews --- The Denver Post 

WASHINGTON — If Colorado politics were like daytime TV, then the state's controversial TABOR law would be its longest-running soap opera.

Few issues can match the drama — and staying power — of the 1992 measure, which has survived repeated attempts to dismantle its requirement that lawmakers get permission from voters before raising taxes.

Now, though, the so-called Taxpayer's Bill of Rights is getting a shot at prime time. As soon as Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of a lawsuit against TABOR.

The court's decision, say activists involved in the case, will have huge implications — not just for Colorado and its budget, but also for the ability of all states to run their governments as they see fit.

"The People of Colorado have chosen to maintain a direct voice in the state's tax policy and overall level of appropriations. Plaintiffs here challenge that choice and ask the federal courts to undo it," wrote attorneys for the state in their filings with the high court.

"Whether the federal judiciary can interfere in this sort of intrastate governance dispute is of fundamental importance," they added.

At the heart of the case is an unusual legal question that is — depending on the observer — either a novel approach to the law or a "too cute" reading of the U.S. Constitution.

Plaintiffs in the anti-TABOR lawsuit, who include state Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, have made the argument that the law robs state legislators and local government officials of their "authority to tax."

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