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August, 12, 2013 Print Friendly

What the Colorado Constitution actually says about recalls

What the Colorado Constitution actually says about recalls

By Ari Armstrong

As I have written (and clarified), Colorado Senate President John Morse is currently the subject of a recall campaign, largely because he sponsored and promoted gun-restriction bills during this year’s legislative session.

According to far-left media critic Jason Salzman, the fact that those campaigning to recall Morse openly disapprove of his policies “raises questions . . . about whether [this] recall is an abuse of the political process.”

What is the source for Salzman’s claims of abuse? He cites a June 19 editorial by the Denver Post that calls the recall “crassly political” and states that a recall “in our view should be reserved for corruption, glaring incompetence and other non-partisan faults.”

icon_blog_noteAlthough undoubtedly we all wait with bated breath to learn what the Denver Post editorial board regards as crass, we might also ask what is the basis for the paper’s “view” about recalls. It turns out that there is no basis, just the editorial board’s arbitrary pronouncement.

If we actually look at the guiding document for recall elections, the Colorado Constitution (Article XXI, Section 1), we find that it expressly allows for ideologically motivated recalls:

[A recall] petition shall contain a general statement, in not more than two hundred words, of the ground or grounds on which such recall is sought, which statement is intended for the information of the registered electors, and the registered electors shall be the sole and exclusive judges of the legality, reasonableness and sufficiency of such ground or grounds assigned for such recall, and said ground or grounds shall not be open to review.

As if that were not clear enough, the legal notes accompanying this provision add:

Colorado is not a state in which official misconduct is necessarily required as a ground for recall. Rather, the dissatisfaction, whatever the reason, of the electorate is sufficient to set the recall procedures in motion. . . . The limitation on judicial review of the grounds for recall makes it clear that the recall intended by the framers of the Colorado constitution is purely political in nature.

It is perfectly obvious that the recall effort against Morse is “political in nature,” and it is equally obvious that this is in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Colorado Constitution. So, please, let’s hear no more silly slander about how the effort to recall Morse is somehow an “abuse of the political process.”

The point bears repeating: “Registered electors shall be the sole and exclusive judges of the legality, reasonableness and sufficiency of such ground or grounds assigned for such recall.”

Author and blogger Ari Armstrong edits the Free Colorado website


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