Jerry Kopel


I'm here tonight asking your support for Referendum D. It removes twelve obsolete sections from the state constitution. They range in time from 1902 to 1998. No one objects to 11 of the 12 sections. David Ottke and Dennis Polhill of the Colorado Term Limits Coalition object to repeal of their 1996 term limits amendment.

That amendment required state and federal legislators to follow a strict procedural effort

(1) to call for a federal constitutional convention and

(2) for state legislators to ratify the exact term limit language to be put in the U.S. Constitution.

If you didn't do exactly what they told you to do, you would be branded on the ballot as having quote "disregarded voter instruction on term limits" end of quote.

In 1998 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 7 to zero that the 1996 amendment violated Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution. In 2001 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9 to 0 that a similar Missouri amendment violated either the U.S. Constitution.

Both Colorado and the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out freedom to debate and voting by conscience are essential in a Republic and branding a legislator on a ballot with coercive language infringed on federal jurisdiction under Article 5.

Opponents haven't argued against what the courts did. Both Ottkeand Polhill argue the term limit issue was not in the bill title. Well, they fail to mention that not one of the 12 sections repealed appears in the title.

That's because the legislative drafting office determines bill titles. They made the decision back in 1990 to list the Articles which covered the repealed obsolete sections. Article 18 covers the term limit language repeal, and Article 18 is in the title.

I defy Ottke or Polhill to find any repealed section in the titles of the 1990, 1992, and 2000 amendments to remove obsolete sections. Both of them have, intentionally or not, disparaged the integrity and honesty of the legislative drafting office.

On page 2 of the bill is a list of what's repealed. It states quote "A congressional term limit amendment held unconstitutional by the Colorado Supreme Court in 1998." end of quote.

Next, they claim the bill was introduced near the end of the session. There's a good reason for that. The Senate had introduced five substantive amendments to the constitution and the House had introduced eleven. We had to wait until all 16 either passed or failed to know what Articles we would be able to amend in Referendum D.

Another argument was that legislators didn't know what they were voting on. The vote in favor of Referendum D was 100 to nothing. Yes, there are a few legislators who never read a bill and vote on who is the sponsor. But to claim that legislators don't read at least the bill summary which follows the title and is only one page in size is derogatory to legislators.

Next they claim Judiciary Committee members didn't know what was in the bill they passed. I testified in both the House and Senate committees. In the House committee I engaged in a short debate with Rep. Shawn Mitchell on the term limit amendment. And contrary to the Polhill and Ottke claim, in neither committee did members get up and leave the room.

They ask "why pick on us" when there are other unconstitutional amendments that have not been repealed. The answer is we want to reduce the size of the constitution. We seek quantity. We are repealing six pages of which the term limit language constitutes one and one-half pages.

Finally, they claim the term limit section is not obsolete and that some U.S. Supreme Court in the future could rule in their favor. The legal meaning of "Obsolete" is that which is no longer used, disused, neglected, not observed. The term limit section fits every one of those definitions.

Referendum D is severable. The opponents can take the issue of whether the term limit section is obsolete to the courts after the election. I have no doubt of the outcome of such as action. They would lose.

Finally the nine to zero decision by the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated in their decision volatile language used by state courts in holding the term limit amendment to be unconstitutional. I will just point out several of those comments: "Derogatory" and "branded unfaithful" and "negative", and the most telling words are "intentionally misleading".

The choice is yours. You can vote "yes" and remove six pages of obsolete sections, or you can vote "no" and continue to keep those six obsolete pages on the books.

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Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel