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State Supremes strike down Amendment 54


Amendment 54, which prohibits campaign contributions from labor unions and holders of sole-source government contracts, has been declared unconstitutional by the Colorado Supreme Court.

In the 4-1 decision, the court found that the amendment, narrowly passed by voters in 2008, violated the First Amendment. Justice Nancy Rice wrote the opinion, with Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey and Justices Michael Bender and Gregory Hobbs concurring.

Justice Alex Martinez dissented, suggesting that the unconstitutional portions of Amendment 54 could be taken out, "leaving behind a meaningful enactment, albeit reduced in scope."

Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky also served as a plaintiffs' attorney, and was joined as co-counsel former Colorado State Representative Doug Friednash and litigator Michael Davis from Greenberg Traurig LLP.

The lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs requested that the defendants - Gov. Bill Ritter and the Executive Director of the Department of Personnel and Administration - be enjoined from implementing or enforcing Amendment 54.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said, "We find it impossible to achieve Amendment 54's legitimate purpose without substantially rewriting the Amendment from the bench; therefore, we find the entire Amendment unconstitutional."

Judge Catherine Lemon granted a preliminary injunction after a two-day hearing in June in Denver District Court. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the lawsuit on Dec. 3.

The plaintiffs included Kerrie Dallman, Dan Ritchie, Laurence Botnick, Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown, Pat Hamill, the Aurora Fire Fighters Protective Association, The Children's Hospital, the School District 14 Classroom Teachers Association and Political Action Committee, The Colorado Seminary and the University of Denver.

The full opinion can be found here: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/opinions/2009/09SA224.pdf. And read more here.

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ColoradoBiz staff

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