Tag Archives: Standing

Taxpayers for Public Education, et. al. v. Douglas County School District, 2015CO50 (June 29, 2015)

“Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions.” Ulysses Grant. Petitioners challenged a scholarship program that required enrollment in a “charter school” and admission to a qualified private school. Taxpayer money funded the scholarship, which was paid to the parents who then paid the private school. Nearly 93% of recipients enrolled in religious schools. The Court held the program unconstitutional under Colorado’s expansive prohibition on public funding of “sectarian” schools because the program “supports and sustains” such schools. The element of private choice was insufficient absent safeguards against funding religious schools. As such, invalidating the program does not violate the 1st Amendment. Petitioners lacked taxpayer standing to challenge the program under a statute.



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Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government, Proceedure

Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc., Mike Smith; David Habecker; Timothy G. Bailey; and Jeff Baysinger, 2014CO77 (Nov. 24, 2014)

No harm, no foul. Individuals have standing to sue the government if the government’s actions cause them an injury-in-fact. An injury can be tangible or intangible, but not indirect or incidental. Taxpayers have standing to sue as taxpayers, if the government expenditure is related to the alleged harm. Here, nonbelievers sued over the constitutionality of Colorado’s Day of Prayer proclamations. The Court dismissed not because the proclamations were unconstitutional, but because the Plaintiffs were not injured by them. The incidental expenditure of public funds on overhead was not sufficient to establish taxpayer standing. Plaintiffs also claimed psychic harm by the issuance of the proclamations that politically excluded them by promoting religion, due to their nonbelief. But the government did not coerce, punish, or prevent them from having or changing their beliefs.




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Filed under Constitutional, Proceedure

Marilyn Marks v. Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State and Judd Choate, [Director of Elections], 2013COA115 (Aug. 1, 2013)

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – FDR. Marks filed a complaint with Gessler claiming violations of federal election laws (HAVA). Gessler dismissed the complaint without a hearing for lack of standing. Marks appealed to the district court and won. In a complex ruling, the court of appeals affirmed because 1) the state’s APA provides for judicial review of administrative HAVA determinations; 2) federal and state HAVA laws conflict regarding standing, so the federal rule controls; and 3) HAVA did not create a privately enforceable federal civil right. Procedurally, the court 1) identified the final appealable order; 2) affirmed sua sponte entry of summary judgment; and 3) held state and federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction to review HAVA appeals.

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Filed under Administrative, Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government

Certiorari Grants, Grant and Remand, and an Interesting Denial

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in three civil cases: one involving the governor’s authority to issue certain honorary proclamations and a taxpayer’s standing to bring such a challenge, and a second case to determine whether certain amendments to the fire department’s disciplinary system are subject to the collective bargaining provisions of the Denver City Charter.

In the third case the Court took the unusual action of granting certiorari as to whether the notice requirements pursuant to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) were satisfied under 25 U.S.C. section 1912(a) (2001) and CRS 19-1-126, Colorado’s Children’s Code. It then remanded with instructions to the trial court that notice be given in accordance with the provisions of the ICWA and the Children’s Code.  The Court also provisionally vacated the trial court’s order terminating parental rights but held that the trial court’s judgment terminating parental rights “shall be reinstated and will stand affirmed if it is ultimately determined, after proper notice, that the child is not an Indian child. If the child is determined to be an Indian child, the trial court must proceed in accordance with the ICWA.” A copy of the original Order of the Court is here: 13SC176.

Please visit the Certiori tab for a complete statement of the issues granted.

Petitions sought pursuant to C.A.R. 50 — which are appeals directly to the Supreme Court prior to Court of Appeals review are rare. Even more rare is a grant. Par for the course, the following petition for CAR 50 review was denied and will therefore be addressed by the court of appeals in the first instance; and any appeal from that opinion will be pursuant to the normal certiorari review process under CAR 49.

No. 13SC85, Richard L. Anderson; Stephanie Allen; James N. Dreisbach, MD; Nicholas G. Muller; Ray Blum, MD; K. Mason Howard, MD; Susan E. Ljunghag, MD; Richard Schaler, MD; and Richard Parker, MD v. John W. Suthers, as the Attorney General for the State of Colorado; HealthOne, d/b/a The Colorado Health Foundation; HealthOne of Denver, Inc.,; and HCA-HealthOne, LLC, Court of Appeals Case No. 12CA2313

Petition for Writ of Certiorari Pursuant to C.A.R. 50 DENIED.

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Filed under Commentary

Taxpayers for Public Education and Cindra Barnard, et. al. v. Douglas County School District; Douglas County Board of Education; Colorado State Board of Education; and Colorado Department of Education, and Florence and Derrick Doyel, et. al. Intervenors, 2012COA20 (February 28, 2013)

Money merely represents value; but it has come to symbolize so much more. Here, the Douglas County Public School District created a voucher system that gives taxpayer money to private and/or religious schools. The trial court held it was unconstitutional. The court of appeals reversed based on 4 conclusions: 1) courts may not inquire into the extent of religious instruction, 2) religious institutions are not directly benefited, 3) parents directed the funds, and 4) the system gave parents neutral funding choices that maintained the free educational system. The court also held Plaintiffs lacked standing to enforce a statute. It avoided deciding whether Colorado’s constitutional religion provisions were coextensive with the First Amendment. The dissent concluded the system was a pipeline of public money to religious schools, thus violating Colorado’s Constitution.





Filed under Appellate Review Challenged, Constitutional, Government

In Re: Parental Responsibilities Concerning M.D.E., and Concerning Bernice M. Spencer, Intervenor, and Scott Rottler, Petitioner, 2013COA13 (January 31, 2013)

Grandparents are great; but great-grandparents are not “grandparents.” Following the dissolution of a marriage, the grandmother of a child’s mother (Great-grandmother), sought visitation rights. Father objected. The trial court allowed Great-grandmother to intervene to seek visitation. Father obtained interlocutory review pursuant to CRS 13-4-102 and CAR 4.2. The court of appeals reversed. Under CRS 19-1-117 and CRS 19-1-103(56) a “grandparent” is “a person who is the parent of child’s father or mother.” Great-grandparents are not such a person. Although the Children’s Code is liberally construed in favor of the best interests of the child, unambiguous language, combined with the protection of parents’ rights under Troxel v. Granville, do not permit an expansion of the definition of grandparent. Thus, Great-grandmother lacked standing to seek visitation.



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Filed under Family Law, Interlocutory Review

In Re Estate of Jeffrey Johnson, deceased, Laurel Christensen v. Dawn Wilson, Personal Representative, 2012COA209 (November 21, 2012)

As your life changes, so should your insurance. This case involves a marriage, life insurance, divorce, and death – in that order. Ex-wife sought life insurance proceeds on a policy to which she was named a beneficiary while married. The trial court dismissed her claims and the court of appeals affirmed. CRS 15-11-804 revokes any revocable disposition of property made to a former spouse, including designations in insurance policies. The divorce removed ex-wife as a beneficiary under the policy. Policy language that requires written notice to change beneficiaries did not abrogate the statute because: 1) regulations created an expectation the law would apply, 2) the parties’ rights are not impaired by the law, and 3) the policy does not expressly exempt automatic revocation. Similarly, the policy could not be reformed because ex-wife lacked standing upon revocation.



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Filed under Contracts, Family Law, Insurance

Colorado Medical Society and Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists v. John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado, and Colorado Association of Nurse Anesthetists; Colorado Nurses Association; and Colorado Hospital Association, 2012COA121 (July 19, 2012)

“The best doctor is the one you run to and can’t find.” Denis Diderot. In this case, anesthesiologists challenged a decision by the Governor to opt out of a federal regulation that requires certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administering anesthesia to be supervised by a physician. The court of appeals first held the doctors had standing to bring their claims based on harm to their reputations and value of their licenses, as well as third-party standing to protect their patients. The political question doctrine didn’t bar review either. The court then held that Colorado law permits CRNAs to administer anesthesia without supervision by a physician. It reasoned that under CRS 38-12-103 and 12-38-111.5, CRNAs who administer anesthesia are conducting independent nursing functions and not a “delegated medical function.” The Governor’s opt-out decision was upheld.



UPDATE: The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case on October 7, 2013.

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Filed under Administrative, Appellate Review Challenged, Government, Proceedure