Saturday, May 12, 2007

Martha Coakley: Marriage Banning Amendment Illegal

NECN was on for a bit tonight and they did a very short segment on how Martha Coakley was speaking in front of some group and said that the amendment to ban marriage could have been illegal, or something to that effect. She urged legislators to stop it, but from what the news anchors were saying, made it sound as if she may be pursuing it as well. Needless to say, this is a positive development and we need to learn more about it. Unfortunately, I don't have much information on it (and I've looked!), but if anyone knows more, luckily we have this interactive feature called comments in the blogosphere - so have at it. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

I've never been able to understand why the SJC is allowing this petition drive to go forward, since it states explicitly in the state constitution that judicial decisions can't be reversed by iniative petition. It's completely unconstitutional on its face, but I guess the SJC ran out of nerve. Doesn't set a great prescendent.

Anonymous said...

The amendment doesn't violate the state constitution because it doesn't invalidate any of the gay marriages that have already been performed.

Boston Bud said...

While the amendment language maybe ok for the Legislature to vote on, the outcome maybe an entirely different issue. I believe the SJC said that in its decision.

If this amendment passes it will create three different classes of people. Straight couples who can marry, gay couples who are already married and gay couples who are not allowed to marry. This would go against the "Equal protection" clause of the Constitution.

Tom said...

Boston Bud and Anonymous (2) both have it right. And add to the discussion the fact that Peter Sack at the AG's office argued for the Commonwealth on behalf of the 1913 Law. Peter called me to explain why and that he had to do this.

Our constitution is set up so that "we the people" can right anything into it that we want--including things overtly discriminatory. That is what we all learned witht the 1913 Law.

The best way to look at all of this is that the ballot initiative process for constitutional change is broken down into 5 stages--all under separate authority and control. 1) the AG's approval of the legitamacy of the initiative from a legal standpoint 2) the signature collection process (68,000) 3) the Secretary of the Commonwealth's "filing" which is basically counting and county distrubution 4) two Concons of legislative review of whether or not this should go before the voters and lastly 5)the popular vote.

The only two places really, aside from timely fraud challenges to show cause to throw the petition out, where the initiative can be defeated based on leadership, personal opinion and decency is in the legislature and the ballot box.

We cannot look to some quick fix when we are letting the legislators off Scott free. And believe me, on June 14th, the power shifts from the Legislature and they know this. I am committing to not letting any of them forget what they have done to us if this goes to popular vote.

Anonymous said...

Martha Coakley, like Deval Patrick, is just trying to frighten people RE: The marriage amendment.

I support the right of the people, not four unelected, unaccountable judges, to make this decision. The legislature should pass the amendment so that society as a whole in Massachusetts can decide what the definition of marriage will be in the state.

Ryan Adams said...

Because we let society vote on educational policy, roads, health care, and social security - right?

joe said...

If I got 140k verified signatures to have a vote on some road issue, you'd best believe it'd appear on a ballot.

Ryan Adams said...

Honestly, Joe, I think we need to get away from ballot initiatives. I'm not opposed to them for constitutional amendments, but we've exchanged words there: the bar isn't set high enough to advance those petitions. Given that situation, I think the state legislators should do exactly what they did to the Health Care Amendment last ConCon.

Anonymous said...

Um sure Joe, that's because the roads aren't explicitly excluded by the constitution. Religious matters, however, are, and so are petitions to overturn judicial decisions.

"Section 1. Contents. - An initiative petition shall set forth the full text of the CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT or law, hereinafter designated as the measure, which is proposed by the petition.

Section 2. Excluded Matters. - No measure that relates to religion, religious practices or religious institutions; or to the appointment, qualification, tenure, removal, recall or compensation of judges; OR TO THE REVERSAL OF A JUDICIAL DECISION; or to the powers, creation or abolition of courts; or the operation of which is restricted to a particular town, city or other political division or to particular districts or localities of the commonwealth; or that makes a specific appropriation of money from the treasury of the commonwealth, shall be proposed by an initiative petition;"

Goodrich didn't just allow the couples who have already gotten married to marry, it described marriage as a constitutional right, so how is this petition drive not overturning a judicial decision? The constitution was designed to allow a great deal of popular imput, yes, but maintaining a strong independant and yes, absolutely unelected, judiciary to protect us from the tyranny of the majority seems to have been even more important.

Anonymous said...

Ack, I meant Goodridge, saturday night. :)

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