Amendment 54 is still bad news

Coloradans narrowly approved Amendment 54 during last year’s election, despite objections from this newspaper and many other media and public officials that the restraints it placed on political speech were almost certainly unconstitutional.

Now a district judge has reached the same conclusion. Judge Catherine A. Lemon temporarily halted implementation of Amendment 54, arguing that it violated First Amendment rights to free speech.

Good for Judge Lemon. We hope other judges will see it the same way as the measure is inevitably appealed.

Amendment 54 was one of a handful of ballot measures put on the ballot last year — dubbed “poison pill” amendments — that were in direct response to several pro-labor measures. All of the other ones were defeated.

Amendment 54 prohibits labor organizations that represent public employees, such as teachers’ unions, from contributing money to any political candidate. It also bans individuals and private companies from giving money to political candidates if they have a sole-source contract with any state or local government. So, for instance, an individual in Grand Junction who has a sole-source contract to provide janitorial services for Mesa County would be banned from giving money to someone running for governor or the state Senate.

That clearly creates an obstacle to political free speech, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

We’re glad Judge Lemon recognized that and we hope her temporary suspension of this bad amendment will become permanent.


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