The Colorado Supreme Court has decided with a 4-3 vote that when the governor declares an emergency, Colorado’s constitution can be ignored.


The court’s majority found that the amendment to the constitution detailing legislative session length is ambiguous and that the legislative rule applied when the governor declared a health emergency could be followed instead of the constitution.


That’s right: A joint rule of the General Assembly has been found to be superior, legally, to the constitution.


Here’s what the constitution says: Regular sessions of the General Assembly shall not exceed 120 calendar days.


That seems fairly clear to this country boy.


This amendment was approved by the voters in the 1980s and it was meant to give the citizens of Colorado the surety of knowing when the Legislature would adjourn sine die. When then-Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Chris Paulson referred the measure to the voters, Paulson explained that “it would limit both sessions of the legislature to 120 consecutive calendar days.”


One justice’s written dissent in the court’s opinion cites the legal dictionary definition that clarifies “calendar days” is meant to be consecutive days, including weekends and federal holidays. There really should have been no question about it.


The constitution is supreme and no legislative rule should ever be allowed to supersede it. The decision should have been 7-0. The Colorado General Assembly should be finished by May 6 this year, the day that marks 120 days from the start of the session.


What might be even more disturbing is the precedent set by this finding. If a legislative rule is superior to the constitution during a declared emergency, what other constitutionally protected rights could be ignored during the emergency?


Does this give Democrats the idea that they can ignore the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and raise your taxes without asking your permission? It’s an emergency, after all, and they might decide they need your money more than you do.


What about your right to purchase firearms? Might they decide that during this emergency they need to restrict purchase of guns for some invented safety concern?


At this point, it seems none of your rights are secure.


We, the members of the General Assembly, really should go back to Denver before the end of April to do our essential work as safely as possible, make provisions for citizens to testify remotely so they can still participate and then adjourn.


A special session can be called either by us or the governor to do any other work deemed necessary and important, if not quite “essential.” We ask health care workers, farmers, ranchers, truckers, prison guards and grocery store employees to do their essential work wisely. We should do the same ourselves.


The Colorado Supreme Court made a tremendous mistake with this 4-3 finding. I trust that the justices will get a chance to revisit the subject and I think it would be best for the majority party in the Legislature to be cautious when it comes to any legislation passed after May 6.


I am confident that legislation which passes after the end of 120 calendar days will be challenged and, ultimately, this Supreme Court will get to revisit the question ― this time in a much more rigorous and formal setting than a mere interrogatory.


Jerry Sonnnenberg is a farmer/rancher and state senator from Sterling.