Application of the Term Person

Colorado Ballot Measure - Amendment 62

Election: Nov. 2, 2010 (General)
Outcome: Failed

Yes: 508110  (29.5%) Argument For
No: 1214438  (70.5%) Argument Against

Categories:

Summary

    Amendment 62 proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to:

    * apply the term "person," as used in the sections of the Colorado bill of rights concerning inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.

    Summary and Analysis

    Like the U.S. Constitution, the Colorado Constitution has a bill of rights. The Colorado bill of rights contains the rights of the people of Colorado and outlines the principles of state government. Amendment 62 addresses the application of the term "person" for sections 3, 6, and 25 of the Colorado bill of rights. These sections concern inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law.

    Inalienable rights. Section 3 asserts that all persons have natural, essential, and inalienable rights to enjoy life and liberty, to acquire, possess, and protect property, and to seek and obtain safety and happiness. These rights include the right to survive, the right to defend against threats to safety, the freedom to make independent decisions, and the right to work and obtain economic goods. Inalienable rights are fundamental to all persons and are not created by laws and government. The constitution requires that the government protect these rights, although the government is permitted to limit the exercise of rights as necessary for the welfare and general security of the public.

    The constitutional provision regarding inalienable rights has been applied by courts, for example, to guarantee the right of an individual to pursue a legitimate trade or business, to acquire property without fear of discrimination, and to travel freely around the state.

    Equality of justice. Section 6 requires the courts in Colorado to be open to all persons. If a person's legal rights are violated, this section guarantees that a judicial remedy is available.

    Courts have determined that this section applies to a variety of circumstances. For instance, individuals are denied equal access to justice if juries are chosen in a discriminatory manner. Additionally, all persons have the same right to use the courts regardless of their financial resources.

    Due process of law. Section 25 ensures that no person is deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Due process of law requires the government to follow consistent procedures before a person's fundamental rights are taken away. The courts have determined, for example, that due process requires the government to provide notice and a fair hearing before detaining a person, taking a person's property, or sentencing a person to death.

    Application of the term "person." Sections 3, 6, and 25 of the Colorado bill of rights do not currently address the application of the term "person." Amendment 62 applies the term "person" in a manner that extends inalienable rights, equal access to justice, and due process of law from the beginning of biological development. The measure does not define the phrase "the beginning of biological development."

    Estimate of Fiscal Impact

    No immediate impact to state revenue or expenditures is expected because Amendment 62 does not require that any specific actions be taken or services provided. If legislation is adopted, or the courts determine that the measure requires the state to provide new services, state spending may increase.

    Measure Text

    Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution applying the term "person", as used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being?