The Colorado Supreme Court: Independence or Activism?

October 30, 2006

Shawn Mitchell

Politicians, academics, and even U.S. Supreme Court Justices have joined the debate over the role of the judiciary and the line between independence and activism. Several highly publicized cases of the Colorado Supreme Court have recently placed it in the center of this debate. Critics argue that the court has usurped the policymaking function properly reserved to the public and elected officials and warn that this is becoming an overarching trend. For example, they argue, the court exceeded the bounds of its interpretive role when it declared its own work product "legislation" for purposes of striking a congressional redistricting plan. So too, they contend, did the court act improperly when it rejected an immigration initiative on the basis that it violated the single subject rule because it had more than one purpose. Supporters, however, argue the court reasonably employed tools at its disposal and that even creative interpretation of constitutional text is sometimes necessary to effectuate what they consider to be its underlying goals.

The Colorado Supreme Court: Independence or Activism?