Tuesday, 20 Apr 2021

Colorado Supreme Court rules 4-3 in favor of GOP in fight over speed-reading

The Democrats who run the Colorado legislature were wrong to use speed-reading computers to combat the GOP’s attempt to delay liberal legislation, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a 4-3 decision issued three years to the week since unintelligible speed-reading debuted on the state Senate floor, the court found the use of computer programs in that case was unconstitutional.

“There are unquestionably different ways by which the legislature may comply with the (bill) reading requirement,” the court stated. “But the cacophony generated by the computers here isn’t one of them.”

The ruling confirms a previous ruling at the district court level. It’s a win for the Republicans who sued Senate Democratic leadership.

It’s a common stall tactic at the legislature to request that a bill be read at length — as in every word, in order, out loud. Republicans were facing a deluge of big-ticket liberal bills in early 2019, including one that proposed to abolish the death penalty, and Assistant Minority Leader John Cooke, a Weld County Republican, asked that a 2,203-page bill be read at length.

Rather than let that reading play out, and suck up many hours of the session, Democrats responded by having the bill read through a computer program, at unintelligible speed. The GOP sued.

Spokespeople for the two state Senate caucuses could not immediately be reached for comment on the ruling.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Monica Márquez wrote, “In my view, the plain language of (the state Constitution) simply requires that bills be ‘read,’ or uttered aloud. Nothing more.”

Sage Naumann, spokesman for the Colorado Senate GOP, said in a statement, “We are grateful that the Colorado Supreme Court sided with us in ruling that what occurred on March 11th, 2019 was not constitutional. We stand ready to work with the majority to establish clear, constitutional guidelines for the reading of bills on the floor moving into the future.”

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