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10th Circuit tosses lawsuit challenging Colorado’s TABOR

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit on Monday that sought to overturn the state’s Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR). 

Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich affirmed a lower court’s ruling that TABOR’s voter approval requirement for all tax increases does not impede the government’s ability to govern, as the plaintiffs argued. 

Circuit Judges Allison Eid and Harris Hartz concurred with the opinion while Judge Jerome Holmes concurred with the analysis only. 

Judge Holmes said in his opinion that he would have dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that it wouldn’t be able to be re-litigated in the future, because the claims amounted to “nonjusticiable political questions.”

Holmes added that the Court should have dismissed the claims from the outset because “federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear cases that involve a political question” such as who has the power to levy taxes. 

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2011 by several state lawmakers, education groups, and other organizations against then-Gov. John Hickenlooper that claimed TABOR violated the "guarantee clause" of the Colorado Constitution, which guarantees a Republican form of government. 

The lawsuit was initially dismissed by a district court in 2012 before making its way to the federal appeals courts where it was dismissed again in 2016. It then arrived in the 10th Circuit Court in December 2017 and has been under litigation ever since.