Colorado Term Limits for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Judges, Initiative 40 (2006)
The Colorado Term Limits for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Judges Initiative, also known as Initiative 40, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have created the following changes in Colorado's judicial branch:
- Limited the number of terms that could be served by justices of the Colorado Supreme Court
- Limited the number of terms that could be served by judges of the Colorado Court of Appeals.
- Reduced the term of Supreme Court justices from 10 to 4 years.
- Reduced the term of appellate court judges from 8 to 4 years.
- Required appellate court judges who had already served 10 years or more to leave their position in January 2009.
- Allowed appellate court judges still eligible for another term to appear on the November 2008 ballot for retention.
Election results via: Colorado State Legislative Council, Ballot History
Text of measure
|“||An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning term limits for appellate court judges, and, in connection therewith, reducing the terms of office for justices of the supreme court and judges of the court of appeals to four years, requiring appellate judges serving as of January 1, 2007, to stand for retention at the next general election, if eligible for another term, prohibiting an appellate judge from serving more than three terms, specifying that a provisional term constitutes a full term, and making any appellate judge who has served ten or more years at one court level ineligible for another term at that level.||”|
Summary and analysis
The Colorado Legislative Council is charged with providing a summary and analysis of each measure on the Colorado ballot. ("The state constitution requires that the nonpartisan research staff of the General Assembly prepare these analyses and distribute them in a ballot information booklet to registered voter households.")
To describe Amendment 40, they said:
What happens after a judge is appointed? After appointment, appellate judges serve an initial two-year term and then stand for retention at the next general election. At a retention election, voters vote to either keep a judge in office or to remove a judge from office. If voters choose to keep the judge in office, he or she serves an additional term before standing for retention again. There is currently no limit on the number of terms a judge can serve, but judges are required to retire at age 72.
How are Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges evaluated? Appellate judges who are standing for retention are evaluated by a state commission on judicial performance. The commission reviews opinions authored by the justice or judge, conducts an interview with the justice or judge, and reviews surveys completed by trial court judges and attorneys. The commission's evaluation includes a recommendation stated as "retain," "do not retain," or "no opinion." This evaluation is printed in the ballot information booklet that is mailed to every Colorado voter household before a general election.
How does Amendment 40 change the current system? Amendment 40 limits Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges to three terms — one initial two-year term plus two four-year terms. Appellate judges who, as of the November 2008 election, have already served ten years will not be eligible to serve another term in their current position. Judges who are eligible to continue serving will appear on the November 2008 ballot for retention.
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the Colorado Legislative Council said:
Groups supporting the measure included:
- Limit the Judges
- Colorado Term Limits Coalition
- The Colorado Family Action Issue Committee
Arguments in favor
Supporters argued that by creating more turnover in office, Amendment 40 would provide new perspectives and opportunity for more judges to serve on the state's two highest courts. They added that the amendment would extend the same kinds of benefits that come from legislative term limits, which Colorado voters have already approved, to the judiciary.
They also argued that options available to remove a judge from office are inadequate. No Supreme Court justice or Court of Appeals judge in Colorado has ever been removed in a retention election, impeachment of judges is almost never used, and there is no process to recall a judge.
Supporters said that requiring appellate judges to stand for retention every four years would allow the public to evaluate the performance and decisions of these judges more often. All other judges in Colorado stand for retention every four to six years; Amendment 40 would make the terms of appellate judges more similar to the other courts.
|Total campaign cash|
$2,272,341 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Amendment 40.
Amendment 40 had four donors of more than $25,000. They were:
|Colorado At Its Best||$1,227,000|
|Focus on the Family Action||$658,208|
|Focus on the Family||$313,496|
|Colorado Catholic Conference||$49,336|
Groups opposing the amendment included:
- Citizens To Protect Colorado Courts
- The Bell Ballot Action
- People For The American Way Voters Alliance of Colorado.
Opponents argued that Amendment 40 would:
- Force five current Supreme Court justices and seven Court of Appeals judges to step down in January 2009, before serving the full term that voters previously approved.
- In 2009, they argued, the governor will appoint new judges to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, including a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court, giving one political party disproportionate influence over the state's two highest courts.
- Every ten years thereafter, the governor may have the ability to appoint a large number of judges to the Court of Appeals and a super-majority to the Supreme Court.
- Limiting the terms of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges is unnecessary. Judges are already held accountable through performance evaluations, retention elections, the oversight of the state's judicial discipline commission, possible impeachment, and mandatory retirement at age 72.
- Amendment 40 could discourage the best candidates from pursuing judgeships on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
- Judges gain knowledge from years of serving on the court. With a limit on terms, judges would be required to step down when their experience is most beneficial.
$1,286,699 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Amendment 40.
Donors of $50,000 and more were:
|Colorado Bar Association||$579,057|
|Denver Bar Association||$100,000|
|U.S. Chamber of Commerce||$50,000|
|Laws • History|
|List of measures|
- Colorado 2006 ballot measures
- List of Colorado ballot measures
- 2006 ballot measures
- History of Initiative & Referendum in Colorado
- Colorado Blue Book on Amendment 40
- Colorado State Legislative Council, Ballot History
- November 7, 2006 ballot measure election results in Colorado
- Colorado State Legislative Council, "Ballot History," accessed February 25, 2014
- Secretary of State elections office, "2006 Amendments and Referenda," accessed January 7, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- 2006 Colorado Blue Book
- Follow the Money, List of donors to "Yes on 40"
- Follow the Money, List of donors to "No on 40"
State of Colorado
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | Commissioner of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Executive Director of Natural Resources | Executive Director of Labor and Employment | Chair of Public Utilities |