By George Skelton | Los Angeles Times — In Philadelphia, 224 years ago, some men tucked these words into the nation’s new Constitution: “No state shall … pass any … law impairing the obligation of contracts…”
Those words, squeezed into a very long sentence in Article 1, Section 10, listing powers denied the states, became known as the “contracts clause.” And it is playing havoc with modern-day public pension reformers, including Gov. Jerry Brown.
As widely interpreted — most importantly by the courts (or so we laymen are told) — the clause means that pensions promised state and local government workers on the day they were hired cannot be reduced without giving them a new compensating benefit. Continue reading . . .