Ward v. State.
2023 CO 45. No. 23SA150. Ballot Titles—Subject Matter Jurisdiction–Single-Subject Requirement—Clear Expression Requirement.
August 21, 2023
In this appeal taken pursuant to CRS § 1-11-203.5(4), the Supreme Court considered (1) whether SB 303 and its embedded referred measure, Proposition HH, violate the Colorado Constitution’s single-subject requirement; and (2) whether Proposition HH violates the constitution’s clear expression requirement.
The Court concluded that under long-settled precedent, Colorado courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction to review either SB 23-303 or Proposition HH for compliance with the Colorado Constitution’s single-subject requirement unless and until those measures have been approved by Colorado voters. The Court further concluded that although it had jurisdiction to consider petitioners’ clear expression challenges to Proposition HH, at least to the extent that any defects in the title are amenable to reformation by the courts, petitioners did not establish that Proposition HH violates the constitution’s clear expression requirement.
Accordingly, the Court affirmed the portions of the district court’s judgment concluding that the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider petitioners’ single-subject claims and denying petitioners’ requested relief on their clear expression claims, and the Court vacated the portions of the district court’s judgment conditionally deciding the merits of petitioners’ single-subject claims. The Court expressed no opinion on the merits of petitioners’ single-subject claims.