Archive for the '' Category

Dave Kopel v. Ken Gordon on Amendment 65

Posted by on Sep 21 2012 | Constitutional Law, First Amendment,, Kopelization, PPC, U.S. Constitution

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 was a landmark case protecting political speech – whether in the form of a guy standing on the sidewalk promoting or bashing a political candidate or that same guy giving money on behalf of his corporation for or against a political candidate or cause. The Court found that restricting political contributions, even from groups of people formed as corporations, was antithetical to our Constitution in general and the First Amendment in particular. On the heels of that decision, the anti-speech interests around Colorado began constructing a plan to combat the ruling.

What ultimately ended up happening was a coalition of forces, mostly on the Left, raised a ton of money (irony?) to put Amendment 65 on this November’s ballot. As it appears on the ballot, Amendment 65 is titled, “Colorado Corporate Contributions Amendment.“Part of the Amendment 65 campaign’s stated goals is to overturn the Citizens United ruling.

This past Wednesday the 19th, local radio station KGNU hosted a debate on Amendment 65, featuring our Research Director Dave Kopel and former legislator Ken Gordon. As you might imagine, Dave took the position in favor of political speech and thus, against Amendment 65, while Ken Gordon argued against political speech and in favor of Amendment 65. You can hear the full 60 minute debate here on

3 comments for now

AUDIO: Supreme Court’s ObamaCare Decision

Posted by on Jun 29 2012 | Constitutional Law, Health Care, health control law,, Kopelization, Legal professor, obama, obamacare, Originalism, PPC, Taxes, U.S. Constitution

Thanks to our two in-house constitutional law scholars, Dave Kopel and Rob Natelson, we have a couple of fresh off sound editor podcasts on yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling. But before I link to you that, take a look at Dave’s article on the ruling in the SCOTUSblog.

Just hours after the ruling came down yesterday, Dave got on the phone with George Mason University Law professor Ilya Somin for analysis. You can find the podcast here.

Rob Natelson went home immediately yesterday after the decision came down to read the Court’s opinions in their entirety. Today he reported his findings both on his blog and on Rob’s take is focused primarily on why the argument that the penalty for not buying insurance is really a “tax” has no constitutional basis or founding evidence. Listen to Rob’s iVoices podcast here.

no comments for now

Special SCOTUS ObamaCare Coverage Thursday!

Posted by on Jun 26 2012 | Constitutional Law, Health Care, health control law,, Kopelization, PPC, U.S. Constitution

I have a special announcement to make. This Thursday the Supreme Court will release its ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare. This is going to be the big news of the day (the week? the month? the YEAR!). As soon as the decision drops this Thursday, our constitutional law scholar Dave Kopel is going to get on the phone with a couple of very highly regarded figureheads in the legal world – Richard Epstein and Gary Lawson. Dave will be discussing the fallout from the decision, taking particular care to get into the legal analysis with the two professors. In other words, it is a law nerd’s deepest, darkest fantasy.

I will make sure to post the podcasts here on my blog as soon as they are released Thursday afternoon/evening. Stay tuned!

no comments for now

Colorado Continues Slide Down Rankings

Posted by on May 01 2012 | Economics, Economy, Government Largess, Growth of Government,, PPC, Regulation, TABOR, Taxes

Each year for the past five years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has produced an informative bit of research called, “Rich States, Poor States.” In it, an all-star cast of authors (Art Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams) pore through financial data, fiscal policy, regulatory policy, debt ratios, labor policy,  legislation and more to rank every state in accordance to their level of prosperity now and the direction they are headed. For the last 4 editions, Colorado had ranked solidly in the top 5 or 6 – with a strong showing at number 2 just 4 years ago. However, in the latest edition of Rich States, Poor States, we have fallen to number 8. Why is this? Jonathan points out that we carry a huge burden of debt, that we’ve enacted a slew of “fee” increases (FASTER, dirty dozen) recently, and we’re still not a right to work state. All of those count as negatives towards growing economically and thus, contribute to our slide down the rankings.

We had the good fortune to have co-author Jonathan Williams in town at an event here at the Independence Institute Freedom Embassy last week. Fast thinking Fiscal Policy Center director Penn Pfiffner grabbed Jonathan for a quick podcast on the latest edition of Rich States, Poor States. You can find the podcast over on here.

no comments for now

An Increase from 30% to… 30%???

Posted by on Apr 30 2012 | energy, Environment,, PPC

The Energy Policy Center is really on top of things. For example, last Friday when Amy got wind that 109 days into the 120 day legislative session, a bill was introduced that would fundamentally change the energy policy in Colorado, she sounded the alarm and both wrote a blog post and recorded a podcast on the bill – SB 178.

The bottom line is this: SB 178 changes Colorado’s renewable energy mandate from a purely nominal 30% to a real 30%. Right now, our 30% renewable mandate is really only 24% when you factor in the multiplier, which credits 1.25 for every 1 megawatt of renewable energy provided. What SB 178 will do is get rid of the multiplier, thus creating a 1 for 1 credit scheme and turning our 30% renewable mandate into an actual 30% mandate.

As is typical for big change creating bills that consumers won’t like (see HB 1365), this bill was snuck in through the back door very late into the session. It creates some winners – like Xcel who has more renewable energy credits than it knows what to do with and the eco-crazy Left who wants to save the environment at all costs – and some big time losers – like the smaller investor owned utility companies like Black Hills and let’s not forget, CONSUMERS! Black Hills will have to buy even more renewable energy credits from Xcel to fulfill the larger mandate now and consumers are going to have pay big time for this new increased mandate.

The pro-178 side likes to pretend that increasing the mandate 20% is FREE environmentalism, but obviously, increasing the costs of providing energy to consumers INCREASES THE COST OF ENERGY FOR CONSUMERS! Duh.

For the nitty gritty details, be sure to follow Amy’s coverage over on the Energy blog and check out this podcast.

no comments for now

Hi! We’re Painfully Average!

Posted by on Mar 14 2012 | Economy, Government Largess,, PPC, TABOR, Taxes

There is a strong narrative surrounding the tax burden here in Colorado. Unlike some popular narratives repeated by the media, this one is almost half true. It goes a little something like this:

Colorado is a low tax state. From the beginning, our state government has asked very little of us. Which makes a lot of sense considering we’re all just a bunch of independent cowboys anyway. But this self-reliance, earn-your-own-way thinking went a little too far recently with the likes of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Arveschoug-Bird. Now our state is in a world of hurt compared to other states with higher revenues. We simply do not tax people enough…

Or something like that. You get the idea.

Anyway, like I said, that is almost half true. We decided to exploit some free labor of ours last year and put this popular narrative to the test. Under the guidance of our Fiscal Policy Center Director Penn Pfiffner, we had intern Anthony Gonzalez collect a ton of tax data and compare our tax burdens with the rest of the country. Aside from the difficulty in finding the tax data, there was another rather surprising twist we uncovered: WE’RE AVERAGE. Yup, it’s that simple. We aren’t special in any way whatsoever. We are just a bunch of average Joe’s, getting taxed like half the country and not taxed like the other half.

If you’d like to read how average we are, check out Anthony’s Issue Paper, “How Colorado’s Tax Burdens Rank Nationally.” If you’d like to hear even more about the paper in audio form, listen to this podcast with Penn Pfiffner and Anthony.

You might be wondering why the popular narrative is almost half right. Well, the narrative the way I usually hear it explicitly cites our low STATE tax burden. And that part is true. But it fails to consider the rest of the equation. It fails to consider the LOCAL tax burdens we Coloradans face. It’s in that part of the equation where we make up the ground we need to be stuck right in the middle – at 26th in the nation (where being #1 really sucks). Thus, with a relatively low state tax burden and a relatively high local tax burden, we end up in the middle on a per capita basis. The way I see it, we Coloradans are taxed at a lower rate pretty much any time we do anything at all, so it adds up.

2 comments for now

Podcasts: Obamacare Goes to the Supreme Court

Posted by on Mar 12 2012 | Health Care, health control law,, obama, obamacare, PPC

When the Supreme Court declares that they will hear a case, they ask for and receive “amicus briefs” from interested 3rd parties called “amicus curiae.” Amicus curiae means “friend of the court.” The brief is essentially a paper written to convince the Supreme Court to either affirm or overturn the decision of a lower court. Dave Kopel has a great track record in writing amicus briefs. His briefs have been cited in the landmark Second Amendment decisions of both Heller and McDonald.

We’re hoping we can keep our track record alive in the case against Obamacare. The court will hear the arguments regarding the constitutionality of both the Medicaid mandate and the individual mandate found in the health control law. Like the incredible scholars they are, Rob Natelson and Dave Kopel wrote briefs on both. You can read the Medicaid brief here and the individual mandate brief here. Long story short, both briefs cite founding era and modern Supreme Court evidence proving that both mandates are unconstitutional and should be struck down by the Supremes.

If you’re like me and avoid reading whenever possible, you can listen to a couple of podcasts explaining our briefs. In part 1, Dave and Rob go into detail about the case against the Medicaid mandate. In part 2, they destroy the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Both are a great listen and will teach you a ton about the founding era and modern Supreme Court doctrine.

no comments for now

Obama’s Energy Policy, 2012 Energy Legislation Preview

Posted by on Feb 06 2012 | energy, Environment,, PPC, Taxes

“Hey Jon, what’s going on with energy policy these days?

Oh hey there! I’m glad you asked. Our Energy Policy Center director Amy Oliver has been hitting the energy and environment issues hard lately. You should take a look at our Energy Policy Center’s webpage to stay on top of Amy and Michael Sandoval’s work. For example, when President Obama came to town to talk about his “comprehensive” view of energy, Amy and Michael put together a nice article translating his rhetoric into real life language – that real people speak! Additionally, Amy sat down with my main minion Justin Longo to discuss Obama’s energy policies and figure out how his “green” energy favoritism gets twisted into an “all of the above” approach he claims to have. You can hear Amy translate and discuss Obama’s energy policies here on

Let’s bring energy policy even closer to home shall we? Amy and Michael also tackled the upcoming energy legislation before our Colorado representatives in this year’s legislative session. What’s some of the good? What’s some of the bad? And you know there’s going to be some downright ugly when it comes to energy policy in Colorado… so what’s that all about this year? Amy gives a run down of some of the more important legislation in this podcast with Justin. You might be surprised at how great some of the good stuff is. (Hint: Rep. Spencer Swalm is on an energy tear this year!) Likewise, the bad will bad and the ugly… expensive.

no comments for now

Smear Me Baby One More Time

Posted by on Dec 06 2011 | Constitutional History,, PPC, Taxes, The Founders, Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Constitution

Here we go again. The Left’s latest attempt to defame the Tea Party movement appears in the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine. In the article, “Debt and Dumb,” the authors distort the founding era record and our Constitution to vilify Tea Partiers. As we’ve seen recently, the Constitution is back in vogue and even the Left is using it to further their big government agenda. (“What’d the founders think? Well, look at Hamilton!”)

Um, okay. Let’s look at him.

Rob Natelson deconstructs the Vanity Fair article in this blogpost. As Rob notes, VF does a great job revising history to fit their beliefs. Over on, Rob sits down with one of my minions to talk about the VF article and why it’s dead wrong. Podcast here.

no comments for now

Wonk Talk: Judicial Federalism

Posted by on Nov 29 2011 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, federalism, Health Care,, PPC, Tenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Ok, maybe my title is a bit of an overstatement. Granted, podcasts on issues surrounding the law are rarely outside the confines of “wonk,” somehow our resident Constitutional Law scholar Professor Rob Natelson makes constitutional law, legal matters and history consumable even at my level. His latest podcast is on judicial federalism. …Judicial whaaaattt?

Let me explain. Like the Founders themselves, the center-right today is a big fan of federalism – aka states’ rights. The Constitution is a document that outlines enumerated federal powers. Whatever not enumerated is left to the states and people. This way, we have 50 separate locations for testing public policies. 50 “test tubes of innovation” reveal what policies work and what policies fail miserably. (i.e. Romney-care in Massachusetts anyone?) Conservatives rightly point to federalism’s rich history and practical advantages when it comes to things like commerce and regulating economic affairs. However, federalism as it pertains to the law, civil justice, and the courts rarely, if ever, gets discussed. This is where Professor Rob Natelson comes in.

He argues in his blogpost that the Colonists were just as likely to be heard screaming, “leave our law alone” as they were “no taxation without representation!” The idea that the Crown ought not to interfere in Colonial civil justice matters was essential to the early patriots. Indeed, early pamphleteers mentioned among the many grievances against the King the injustice of British interference in strictly American judicial matters. Consequently, these early cries for judicial federalism were woven into our nation’s founding documents.

Today, “conservatives” in Congress are pushing for a federal medical malpractice reform bill – HR5. In other words, they like federalism and states rights – except when it comes to judicial matters. Then they want Washington, DC to impose its will on state law. Of course this is nonsense and Rob explains exactly why in this important paper, The Roots of American Judicial Federalism. As Rob says in the podcast, “what’s Constitutional isn’t always what I like. And what’s unconstitutional isn’t always what I don’t like.”

1 comment for now

Next »

Clicky Web Analytics