Posted in on October 10, 2006

Vote No on 40

This November, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the state Constitution that would have a serious impact on the judiciary system.

Amendment 40 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would cut short the time that Colorado Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges can serve.

It is a bad idea with serious consequences for individual and businesses across Colorado. As a result of its retroactive provision, Amendment 40 will apply to judges presently serving. Five of seven Supreme Court justices and seven of 19 Court of Appeals judges will be removed after the next general election and all at the same time — regardless of quality of service or voter preference.

What that means is Colorado’s next governor — and future governors — will have the power to fill the large-scale void created by such extreme vacancies, accounting for 71% of Supreme Court justices and 37% of Court of Appeals judges. Even worse, the measure fails to include a plan to keep our courts operating efficiently after nearly half the judges from Colorado’s highest courts are indiscriminately swept out for no reason.
Approval by voters on November 7 means Colorado will be the first state in the nation to enact judicial term-limits.

Following is the actual text of the ballot amendment:

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning term limits for appellate court judges, and, in connection therewith, reducing the terms of office for justices of the supreme court and judges of the court of appeals to four years, requiring appellate judges serving as of January 1, 2007, to stand for retention at the next general election, if eligible for another term, prohibiting an appellate judge from serving more than three terms, specifying that a provisional term constitutes a full term, and making any appellate judge who has served ten or more years at one court level ineligible for another term at that level?”

We urge all Colorado voters to vote no on Amendment 40 for the following reasons:

1) Amendment 40 Forces out 5 of 7 Supreme Court justices all at once!
This measure is retroactive. It drives out more than 70% of Supreme Court justices and almost 40% of Court of Appeals judges — regardless of excellent performance or voter preference.

2) Amendment 40 creates a backlog in Colorado’s highest courts!
This drastic measure fails to address the serious consequences that result from forcing out nearly half of Colorado’s highest court judges at the same time. There is no plan to address the inefficiencies that will be created by this extreme void. It is a bad idea that will not only harm Colorado’s highest courts, but also individuals, businesses, counties, cities and towns across Colorado.

3) Amendment 40 pushes out good judges for no reason!
Coloradans are well-served by our higher courts. This measure forces some of our state’s best, most knowledgeable and independent judges off the bench for no reason. Amendment 40 will not make our judges “more accountable�? because they already are. Colorado’s judges are subject to judicial performance evaluations by non-partisan commissions. Further, unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, our judges have a mandatory retirement age. These measures, plus retention votes by the people and discipline procedures by a non-partisan commission, already ensure our judges are accountable to Coloradans. Amendment 40 is a giant step in the wrong direction with serious consequences for individuals and businesses across our state.

4) Amendment 40 brings partisan politics into Colorado’s courtrooms!
This bad idea gives the next governor of Colorado and future governors the power to appoint nearly the entire Supreme Court all at once, stacking the deck with judges who share their partisan political views be they conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. Because good judges will be forced out after 10 years of service, this partisan court-packing will happen every decade.

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