“District judge: Amendment that made it harder to change Colorado’s Constitution may be unconstitutional”


A district court judge gave an initial win Wednesday to a group that claims Amendment 71 unconstitutionally raised the bar for petitioners hoping to change the Colorado Constitution.

Judge William J. Martínez denied a request from the Secretary of State’s Office that asked to dismiss the lawsuit against the amendment. Martínez also gave the state until March 9 to say why a permanent injunction should not be placed on the part of the law that requires 2 percent of signatures from each Senate district in Colorado.

Court documents show Martínez believes that because there is a substantial difference in the registered voter population from Senate district to Senate district, Amendment 71 could violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The clause protects “one person, one vote.”

One could interpret Amendment 71 as giving each legislative district one “vote” in favor of or against placing a proposed constitutional initiative on the ballot — like the measures that gave us legal cannabis and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. District 21, where Commerce City is located, needs only 1,610 signatures to cast a “yea” vote. However, District 23, where Johnstown is located, needs 2,644 signatures, the documents show.

“But if Colorado has a good faith basis for believing it can develop empirical data showing that vote dilution is not actually occurring as between the various state Senate districts, the court will not foreclose that opportunity,” the documents state.


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