Ross Kaminsky Show, Jared Polis, March 14, 2019

Station:     KHOW, 630 am

Show:       Ross Kaminsky Show

Guests:    Polis


Date:       March 14, 2019

Topics:      Second

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ROSS KAMINSKY:  As Governor, now – and putting aside – I want to talk about [the] Red Flag [bill]. Putting aside — to some degree, here — what you think of the policy, what does it say to you as the chief executive of the state when so many county commissioners and sheriffs are saying that they believe it’s unconstitutional and if it’s passed they won’t enforce it?

GOVERNOR OF COLORADO, JARED POLIS:  Well, you know, our counties are units of state government, which — I really love our counties. They are locally administered units of state government. There are some states where they have a lot more power at the state level and the state administers some of the programs that we administer at the county level. So, I would say that our counties are trusted partners.  It doesn’t mean that every county elects the person that I would want in each case – nor should they. But I love the country form of government and I love devolving power from the state back to the counties in all areas, whether it’s oil and gas or anything else.

KAMINSKY:  But what does that mean, about – if this Red Flag [bill] passes and they say they won’t enforce?

POLIS:  Well, I mean – yeah. Right. Right, then you get into a legal question. Obviously, elected sheriffs don’t choose the laws, right? I mean, they enforce the laws. I would think that there are laws that every sheriff has qualms with and wouldn’t vote for if they were a legislator or wouldn’t sign if they were governor. So, I don’t think that it’s different than any other law that a sheriff opposes. But obviously, it’s the constitutional responsibility of a sheriff to enforce the law equally and without prejudice.

KAMINSKY:  But it’s also – well, let me ask.  I don’t want to put this in the form of a statement; let me put it in the form of a question.  You, as a governor and before that as a Congressman — and maybe even in some other stuff that you did before — took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. So, do you think – broadly speaking, let’s back away from Red Flag and sheriffs. Do you think that public officials have an obligation to consider the constitutionality of something that comes in front of them? And if they deeply believe it to be unconstitutional, [do they have an obligation] to say, “I just won’t be part of this?”

POLIS: Well, we have a very important third branch of government, Ross, and that’s the courts – the judicial branch.  The judicial branch definitively determines what is constitutional and what is not.  Sometimes they put a stay on a law, and it’s not enforced pending appeal.  Sometimes the law is found unconstitutional. Sometimes laws are found constitutional. I mean, so, we have a process to do that. I have faith in our democratic republic. I have faith in that process.  And of course I will carry out the laws as are written, you know, subject to the judicial branch saying they are constitutional or unconstitutional.

KAMINSKY:  That’s a very interesting answer.  So, are you saying that if the legislature sent you a bill that – putting aside whether you really like it or really didn’t like it; let’s say you liked it at least a little bit, enough that you would probably at least go ahead and sign it – and you thought, “This is probably unconstitutional,” would you sign it anyway, thinking that it’s a court’s job to determine whether it’s unconstitutional rather than your job?

POLIS:  Yeah. So, you know, it’s interesting. I do think it factors into the mind of legislators what might – you know, the extent of constitutional authority. And, you know, — I remember this from my days at the federal side — one of my great colleagues, Justin Amash of Michigan, would vote against many measures because he thought they were unconstitutional.  You know, I am not an attorney. I, again, would take into account what legal scholars are saying if I think that something is a recipe for, “Hey, this will probably be overturned and won’t happen anyway and will cost the state millions of dollars in appeals,” I would be less inclined to sign it. I don’t think that’s the case with Red Flag, Ross.  I mean, I don’t know what it does in states.  Many states have it.  There have not been constitutional issues.  There has been a lot of thought given from attorneys and others to respect constitutional rights in this kind of legislation. But, yeah, of course it would affect my judgement if I came to the conclusion that something was likely to be overturned anyway, and was therefore symbolic, I would be less inclined to support it, absolutely.