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Leave the Constitution alone

When will we learn?

Voters will consider seven proposed amendments to the Colorado Constitution when they cast their ballots Nov. 2.

No one will argue with the fact citizens are increasingly fed up with government — some times with substantial justification, often as an untutored knee-jerk response. No one here will argue that many voters feel isolated, pushed to the periphery in the political system, left with little voice.

So, it is easy to understand why many people fall into line when a proposed amendment to our Constitution seems to soothe a sore spot, when a voter invests an issue with emotion.

The problem is that the constant amendment of the Constitution creates more problems than it solves.

A Constitution is a bedrock document; we do not believe it should be constantly altered, cluttered. The freewheeling use of constitutional amendments to satisfy the political whim du jour contributes to an increasingly Byzantine system — a legal labyrinth increasingly navigated by a select few (let’s call them lawyers and judges) — a sign of a decadent society, not a healthy one. We should craft a system with fewer and more pertinent laws, not produce more legal debris on the society’s shoreline.

Once an amendment to the Constitution is approved, it is set in stone, altered only by another amendment. We think law should be as fluid as possible, susceptible to modification as circumstances require. And circumstances in this day and age can alter in a flash.

Colorado voters will decide on proposed amendments P (regulating games of chance); Q (allowing for temporary relocation of the seat of state government in cases of emergency); R (eliminating property taxes for individuals or businesses using government-owned property for a private benefit $6,000 or less in market value); 60 (overturning taxpayer-approved tax decisions, changing aspects of the state property tax system, with reduced property taxes paid to a variety of entities, including school districts, counties, towns); 61 (limiting length of local government borrowing, prohibiting all new state borrowing after 2010, prohibiting new local borrowing after 2010 unless voter approved, requiring tax rates to be cut when borrowing is fully repaid); 62 (applying the term “person” to every human being in the state from the beginning of biological development); 63 (making health care choice a constitutional right, prohibiting the state from requiring or enforcing the requirement that a person participate in a public or private health coverage plan, and restricting the state from limiting a person’s ability to make or receive direct payments from a lawful health care service).

What, here, could not be initiated by lawmakers at the Capitol? In a form that could change as public needs change?

Why would we want to cement these, or any other ideas, into the Constitution if we want government to be responsive and effective?

Thus, we oppose all attempts to amend the constitution … but one. That would be a national move to amend the U.S. Constitution to rid ourselves of the recent Supreme Court decision that, in effect, makes corporations individuals, giving those “individuals” outrageous rights when it comes to campaign finance.

This leads us to consider, again, the route we believe we must take in order to clean up our political system and return a measure of power to the voter. We must alter the manner in which campaigns are financed. We must remove the dominance of big money, the control now exercised by wealthy interests and their lobbyists, and do so with public financing of national and state campaigns. We need to turn the attention of lawmakers to those who elect them, not to those with big pockets.

If we pass any amendment, it should lead to this end. Karl Isberg