View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, April 19, 2004

Separation of Powers 

Amidst all the war news, let's take a moment to celebrate what looks like a rare event here in Colorado: a correct ruling by the State Supreme Court. The Court has ruled that spending power, even for federal money from tax breaks, does belong to the legislature.

This was a Republican legislature in court against a Republican governor. The AP claims that the governor hasn't indicated whether he'd accept the court's decision, but I don't think he has much choice. Any attempt to spend the money will be met with an impoundment of the funds by the court. Governor Owens has said that he'd veto a bill not to his liking; opponents would have to try to round up the override votes, or the money will just sit there.

This is, of course, how it should be. The Founders envisioned separation of powers as a non-partisan check on power. Branches of government will jealously defend their own prerogatives. (Of course, the courts are the hardest to rein in, and lately have started to act as if they noticed that, but that's for another article.) While partisan legislatures will tend to go along with policy decisions of same-party governors, they won't tend to cede actual power that might someday be used against them.

Keep that in mind the next time somebody accuses the Vice President of corruption over the Energy Commission papers.

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