Former U.S. Senator Hank Brown and Three County Commissioners Join Lawsuit to End the Practice of...
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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Fields
michael@advancecolorado.org
(720) 218-9478

Advance Colorado Sues the State of Colorado for Violating the First Amendment

Former U.S. Senator Hank Brown and Three County Commissioners Join Lawsuit to End the Practice of Unconstitutional Compelled Speech on Citizen-Initiated Ballot Measures

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DENVER, CO – Today, Advance Colorado announced it is suing the State of Colorado for violating Coloradans’ First Amendment rights. Other plaintiffs include former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg, Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis, El Paso County Commissioner Carrie Geitner, and Steven Ward. The plaintiffs are represented by former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid.

The lawsuit seeks to strike down HB 21-1321, which forces state-mandated language in the ballot title for citizen-initiated ballot measures that cut taxes. Regardless of the facts, every measure must say that it “will reduce funding for state expenditures that include but are not limited to education, health care policy and financing, and higher education.”

The requirement to include this language on citizen-initiated ballot measures represents a clear example of unconstitutional compelled speech, and even worse, it requires compelled false speech. The language must be used even when there is no guarantee that a reduction in tax rates “will reduce funding” for any particular state program. Even worse, it is required even when it is provably and mathematically false. With Initiatives #21 and #22, Advance Colorado has experienced this firsthand, when the state-mandated language was required to be part of the title in an initiative it submitted to the title board.  

“We filed this lawsuit because the state is violating the First Amendment by mandating untrue language on the ballot. The initiative process exists in Colorado to ensure that citizens have a voice when it comes to enacting policy reforms in areas where the legislature has failed to act,” said Advance Colorado Institute President, Michael Fields. “Politicians at the Capitol have unconstitutionally stacked the deck against citizen-driven ballot initiatives that reduce taxes, and Advance Colorado is suing to ensure that ballot initiatives generated by citizens are described accurately on the ballot and not subject to compelled speech or government-enforced lies.”
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