The Attack on Colorado’s TABOR and the Threat to Other States

January 9th, 2013 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, Revenue, TABOR, budget, constitution, initiative, petition process, spending, state, tax, taxes, taxpayer No Responses

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) has dire implications that extend far beyond the boundaries of Colorado. The theory of the lawsuit can be used to void well-founded safeguards in the constitutions of almost all other states.

In Independence Issue Paper 12-2012, Professor Rob Natelson, II’s Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence, debunked the lawsuit’s claim that TABOR violates the requirement that each state have a “republican form of government.” In this Issue Paper, Professor Natelson and Institute intern Zak Kessler demonstrate the practical implications of the lawsuit.

If the plaintiffs win, the result will be legal and practical chaos, not just in Colorado but across the country. This is because the theory of the lawsuit is that any fiscal restraints on a state legislature render that legislature less than “fully effective” and therefore “unrepublican.” Special interests can employ this theory to destroy well-founded and long-standing safeguards against legislative fiscal abuse. Furthermore, they can use the same theory to attack the voter initiative and referendum process, and other constitutional limits on the power of state politicians.

Do Citizen Votes on Taxes and Laws Violate the Constitution’s Requirement of a “Republican Form of Government?”

October 26th, 2012 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, constitution, federal, government, petition process No Responses

Opponents of popular participation in government have long argued that when a state constitution or legislature permits the people to vote on revenue measures and other laws, this puts the state out of compliance with the U.S. Constitution’s Guarantee Clause: the requirement at all states have a “Republican Form of Government.” Traditionally, their argument has been that the Constitution draws a sharp distinction between a republic and a democracy, and that citizen initiatives and referenda are too democratic to be republican. Recently, a group of plaintiffs sued in federal court, challenging Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) relying on a variation of this theory.

In this Issue Paper, Professor Rob Natelson, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence and the author of the most important scholarly article on the Guarantee Clause, sets the record straight. Marshaling evidence from Founding-Era sources and from the words of the Founders themselves, he shows that the phrase “Republican Form of Government” permits citizen lawmaking—and that, in fact, most of the governments on the Founders’ list of republics included far more citizen lawmaking than is permitted in Colorado or any other American state. He further shows that the principal purpose of the Guarantee Clause was not to restrict popular government, but to protect popular government by forestalling monarchy.

Don’t Ask the State to Confiscate Water Rights

June 15th, 2012 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, colorado, property rights, water One Response

In next November’s election, voters may be asked to destroy Colorado’s 160-year-old system of water rights. A pair of ballot proposals, for which signatures are currently being collected, would essentially confiscate the water rights of cities, water districts, farmers, and ranchers by making them subordinate to the whims of any Colorado citizen who complains to a court about their legal status.

Weapons Laws of the Russian Federation

June 12th, 2012 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, firearms, guns No Responses

The following is a translation into English of the weapons laws of the Russian Federation. The translation is not an official translation by the Russian government. Accordingly, if you intend to use or possess firearms in Russia, you should consult with a Russian Embassy or Consulate in order to ascertain the lawfulness of what you plan to do.

Amending the Constitution by Convention: Practical Guidance for Citizens and Policymakers

May 26th, 2012 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, constitution No Responses

This third Issue Paper offers guidance and recommendations for those seeking to implement the state application and convention process. The guidance and recommendations are based on the findings of the two earlier Papers, additional Founding-Era evidence unearthed since the first Paper was published, and on authoritative court cases issued at all stages of our history.

Telecommunications Modernization Act of 2012: Is the Cost of Deregulation Worth the Cost of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians?”

April 9th, 2012 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, telecommunications No Responses

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 157, titled the “Telecommunications Modernization Act of 2012.” The 71-page bill deregulates some local phone service and makes new assumptions about public policy. It redefines service providers and eliminates some corporate subsidies. It also repurposes an existing funding mechanism to achieve newly assumed public policy goals, and reshuffles winners and losers in the telecommunications industry. While the deregulation of some local
phone service may be tempting and long overdue, the cost of SB 157 as it is currently written is quite high. This well-meaning bill has some troubling unintended consequences.

Governor’s Energy Office Needs a Dose of Sunshine

October 3rd, 2011 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, energy, transparency No Responses

The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) of the State of Colorado spent a total of $121,652,884.75 from January 2008 to November 2010. This report aims to clarify and provide transparency to the GEO’s spending. Despite best efforts, the exact nature of many of the expenditures remains unclear.

Amending the Constitution by Convention: Lessons for Today From the Constitution’s First Century

July 8th, 2011 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, constitution No Responses

America is in crisis: The constitutional system of checks and balances is failing to keep government within its proper bounds. No matter who is elected, the federal government remains unable to balance its budget, to perform basic tasks efficiently, or to respect constitutional limits. In response, a movement is arising to amend the Constitution to clarify the scope of federal power and impose additional restrictions upon its exercise. An ultimate goal is to revive the Founders’ view of the federal government as a fiscally responsible entity that protects human freedom.

Amending the Constitution to promote Founding-Era principles is well precedented. Most of the twenty-seven amendments adopted thus far served this purpose. The first eleven amendments were designed largely to enforce on the federal government the terms of the Constitution as its advocates represented them during the ratification debates of 1787-1790. The Twenty-First Amendment restored the control of alcoholic beverages to the states. The Twenty-Second restored the two-term presidential tradition established by George Washington. The Twenty-Seventh, limiting congressional pay raises, had been drafted by James Madison and approved by the first session of the First Congress (1789). In addition, several other amendments that changed the Founders’ political settlement did so to advance Founding principles. An example is the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery.

Colombia’s National Law of Firearms and Explosives

May 8th, 2011 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, firearms, guns No Responses

The year 2010 marked the bicentennial of independence for several Latin American nations, including Colombia. Colombians celebrated the bicentennial of their nation in Bogotá’s Plaza Bolívar underneath an inscription on the building that houses the Colombian Constitutional Court that reads “Colombianos, las armas os han dado la independencia, las leyes os darán libertad” Colombians, arms have given you independence, laws will give you liberty). These words, spoken by Colombian revolutionary Francisco de Paula Santander, express the important roles of arms and liberty in Colombia.1 Thus, it seems fitting to analyze one of the fundamental freedoms that Colombia adopted at its independence and has maintained throughout its turbulent existence: the right of the citizen to possess and carry arms.

This Issue Paper provides English translations of the current laws that regulate the possession of weapons in Colombia. Part I provides a brief overview of Colombian constitutional history and demonstrates how the freedom to possess weapons for personal and collective defense is an integral part of Colombia’s history. Part II offers an English translation of relevant articles from Colombia’s current constitution. Part III summarizes the present laws that regulate weapons in Colombia, the system of permits, and how the natural right of self-defense is viewed in Colombia. Part IV presents an English translation of the full text of the three laws that regulate the possession of weapons in Colombia.

Amending the Constitution by Convention: A More Complete View of the Founders’ Plan

December 3rd, 2010 by admin Categories: Issue Papers, Publications, constitution No Responses

Americans increasingly are realizing they have lost control of their federal government. Not only has that government broken nearly all constitutional restraint, but it
has saddled future generations with deficits and a debt of third-world proportions. Citizens have attempted various strategies to recover their government with only indifferent success. But they have not yet triggered the constitutional tool the Founders intended to be used in such crises: Amending the Constitution to save it, using the state-application-and- convention process.

The Founders included in the Constitution two methods of proposing amendments to the states for ratification: proposal by Congress and proposal by a “convention for proposing amendments”—essentially a drafting committee designed to put into acceptable form amendments suggested by the state legislatures. As this paper shows, the Founders included the latter method to enable the people to correct the system when Congress was unwilling or unable to do so.