OK, it may be slightly overstating the case, but Coloradoans owe Matt Arnold and his organization, Clear the Bench Colorado, a huge debt…not just of gratitude, but perhaps even a few dollars of contribution.
On Tuesday (although it was accidentally leaked briefly Monday evening), the Colorado State Supreme Court ruled 4-2 in a case known as Lobato that the state’s current education system is constitutional, thus preventing an economic disaster here in Colorado. According to the state Attorney General, if this verdict had gone the other way, or if it had even been a tie vote (which would have upheld the lower court’s erroneous ruling that the education system is currently unconstitutional), “the state would either have to raise taxes by at least 50 percent or have to devote 89 percent of the general fund budget to K-12 funding, crowding out things such as Medicaid, unemployment assistance, transportation, public safety (including the State Patrol, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and our prison system) and Higher Education, to name just a few.”
The lower court judge, Sheila Rappaport, might as well have been an agent of the teachers union since, as the Supreme Court noted, she “Adopt(ed) the Plaintiffs’ proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law almost verbatim” after two prior courts had ruled against the plaintiffs.
So why should we thank Matt Arnold who, after all, is not a judge or justice?
Because his nearly single-handed efforts to shine a spotlight on what was the most lawless, partisan state supreme court in the nation (yes, worse than California’s) had much to do with the resignation of two of the court’s worst justices.
I’ll never know whether the swing vote in this case, Brian Boatright, had visions of Matt attacking him in advertisements with facts going into the next judicial retention vote. I hope that Justice Boatright voted the way he did because he knew it was the right thing. And in any case I thank and congratulate him.
But the bigger thanks and congratulations must go to Matt Arnold and Clear the Bench Colorado without whom we would likely now be facing the biggest tax increase in state history. It goes to show the power of one highly motivated citizen. I hope Matt’s efforts and results inspire similar action in other states around the nation where judges have tried to make themselves super-legislators.