Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

June 13, 2006

Another Court Rules the Constitution Unconstitutional

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:14 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that a Georgia court ruled a constitutional amendment unconstitutional, purportedly on the grounds that it failed a requirement that amendments deal with a single subject, even though that amendment dealt with only one subject.

Now, Joshua Sharf reports that the Colorado Supreme Court is doing pretty much the same thing.

Here’s the operative part of the amendment, lifted from its complete text:

Except as mandated by federal law, the provision of non-emergency services by the state of Colorado, or any county, city, or other political subdivision thereof, is restricted to citizens of and aliens lawfully present in the United States of America.

And here is the Court’s reasoning:

The ruling said Defend Colorado Now touts the possibility of reducing taxpayer expenditures by restricting illegal immigrants’ access to services, as well as the goal of restricting access to services.

“Because we determine these purposes are unrelated, we conclude they comprise multiple subjects connected only by a broad and overarching theme,” the ruling said.

Note that the text of the amendment says nothing at all about revenues, it only speaks of spending. In fact, it doesn’t even speak of spending, it speaks of services to be provided or denied. The fact that these services cost money is, while an unfortunate fact of life and governance, completely incidental to the language of the amendment. Were Marx to be proven triumphant, and the State be able to provide services without paying for them, the text of the amendment would still be operative. The idea that arguments used in the advocacy of any amendment actually have any force of law is bizarre to say the least, especially for a Court that has a pronounced distaste for the actual legislative histories of bills.

In fact, it’s hard to conceive of any ballot initiative which would pass this test. Measures directly related to revenue by definition potentially affect the tax burden in a state with a balanced budget law and TABOR spending restrictions. That’s reading the decision narrowly. Reading it broadly, any sentence containing more than one word necessarily encompasses two things.

By the Colorado Supreme Court’s logic, an amendment to make the term of the Colorado Governor six years instead of four years would violate the “single subject rule” because it deals with the “subjects” of elections, officeholders, spending (for the governor’s salary), and taxes (to get the money for the governor’s salary).

If that’s the case, all constitutional amendments are unconstitutional!

Which really means, there is no constitution at all. The judges will block whatever votes they don’t like, mandate whatever they do like, and the people won’t be able to do anything about it.

At what point do we stop calling this democracy?

Oh, Those Sophisticated Europeans

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:01 pm

I would like to see the Europeans who attack the U.S. for being “unilateral,” a “hyperpower,” “cowboy country” and generally uncultured defend this:

As he left the soccer field after a club match in the eastern German city of Halle on March 25, the Nigerian forward Adebowale Ogungbure was spit upon, jeered with racial remarks and mocked with monkey noises. In rebuke, he placed two fingers under his nose to simulate a Hitler mustache and thrust his arm in a Nazi salute.

In April, the [Black] American defender Oguchi Onyewu, playing for his professional club team in Belgium, dismissively gestured toward fans who were making simian chants at him. Then, as he went to throw the ball inbounds, Onyewu said a fan of the opposing team reached over a barrier and punched him in the face….

Players and antiracism experts said they expected offensive behavior during the tournament, including monkey-like chanting; derisive singing; the hanging of banners that reflect neofascist and racist beliefs; and perhaps the tossing of bananas or banana peels, all familiar occurrences during matches in Spain, Italy, eastern Germany and eastern Europe.

Thanks to Coyote Blog for the quote and the title.

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