Jerry Kopel

It's always hard to write a "Dear John" column.

Senate Minority Leader John Andrews (R) recently sent out a fax to Republicans and the press urging a "no" vote on Referendum D, which repeals obsolete constitutional provisions. One repealer (out of 12) eliminates a 1996 congressional term limit provision struck down by the Colorado Supreme in 1998 as violating the U.S. Constitution.

According to Andrews' comments in the Denver Post, Referendum D "contains a stealthy repealer of the people's expressed push steadily for congressional term limits."

I checked out "stealthy" in my dictionaries. It linked me to "furtive" which includes "designed to escape attention." I also checked out "bamboozle" which means "to bewilder, confuse, tricky deception, a hoax." I can only surmise my good friend Sen. Andrews was the most bamboozled legislator in the 2002 session.

Bamboozle No. 1. The Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Andrews and I sat directly across from each other, with Sen. Dave Owens (R), sponsor of Referendum D, in the middle. Senator Andrews asked me questions about the term limit repeal. I responded. Andrews voted for the measure.

Bamboozle No. 2. The second reading of Referendum D in the Senate. Andrews voted for the measure. Bamboozle No. 3. Third reading in the Senate. Andrews voted for the measure. Bamboozle No. 4. House amendment adding one more section (NOT the term limit language) to Referendum D. Andrews voted for the House amendment. Bamboozle No. 5, readoption of Referendum D by the Senate. Andrews voted for the measure. All of that, knowing the 12 sections repealed or struck included the term limit section.

While Sen. Andrews never sent me a copy of his comments, I believe they don't mention the term "res judicata", which is NOT a Jewish marathon in Italy. Res Judicata means, according to Black's Law Dictionary "that a matter once judicially decided is finally decided".

So even if there are seven new Colorado Supreme Court Justices who claim in 2003 they now believe the term limit language struck by the court in 1998 is constitutional, it doesn't do any good. Whether or not it remains attached to the constitution, it is dead, dead, dead. In order to get the language viable again, a new measure would have to go on the ballot, be passed, and pass Colorado Supreme Court scrutiny.

If the old language is not repealed, you would then have two exact versions side by side in the constitution, which would certainly bamboozle any future reader.


Meanwhile, Term Limits Section 12a of Title 18 of the state constitution, the "voluntary pledge", went into effect this year. (You may notice the Term Limits Coalition never mentions that fact in its campaign against Referendum D, even though the language in the two sections in the constitution are not compatible.)

Sen. Wayne Allard took advantage of the voluntary pledge, as did every other U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado except Tom Strickland. Under Allard's name on the ballot are the words "Signed declaration to limit service to no more than 2 terms"

The Denver Post in its endorsement of Strickland for senator made much of that Allard pledge, pointing out "Allard has taken himself out of contention for choice committee assignments because the GOP leadership, understandably, will want to use plum posts to develop future leadership, not waste them on lawmakers who won't be around in a few years."

That may well be true, but voters have told me the obnoxious assault by both camps on voter eyes and ears could lead them to a Kafkaesque decision: If Strickland loses, he won't be around next time. If Allard wins he has taken the pledge not to run again and won't be around next time.

Unless of course, he changes his mind.


(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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