November 15, 2006
CLT Joins "Health Care for Massachusetts"
After Constitution is Violated by Legislature
What do gay marriage and universal health care have in common?
Both "the defense of marriage"
issue and the "health care for Massachusetts" issue are initiative
petitions for constitutional amendments, that were on this year’s
Constitutional Convention agenda.
The constitution requires a roll-call vote for both issues,
with 50 voters necessary to advance them toward the ballot.
The marriage amendment was
looking for its first vote, and the health care amendment had
received a "yea" vote in 2004 and should have received another
vote in July; if 50 legislators voted "yea" again, it would have
been on the November 7th ballot.
Instead, it was sent to a study. Last week’s ConCon ignored
them both. CLT is quite
sure that the legislative leadership does not intend to take the
constitutionally mandated votes when they return on January 2nd.
The Supreme Judicial Court has
ruled that the ConCon MUST vote on all initiative petitions before
it. But the SJC has
admitted that it has no remedy if legislators refuse to vote.
Health Care for Massachusetts
has filed a lawsuit that contains such a remedy for its petition
that could apply to all initiative petitions.
If legislators did not honor their oath and do their
constitutional duty, the court would order the Secretary of State
to place the petition on the ballot.
This is similar to the
initiative statute provision in the Constitution, which requires
legislators in both branches to vote on any initiative petition
for a law that comes before them with the required signatures.
If they vote yes, it becomes law.
If they vote no or don’t vote, petitioners go around them
by collecting more signatures, which takes
the petition to the ballot.
Citizens for Limited Taxation
has no formal position on either the marriage amendment or the
health care amendment; our concern is the process, that is used by
conservatives and liberals alike.
Barbara Anderson, CLT’s executive director, is one of the
ten signers of the Health Care for Massachusetts lawsuit.
The suit has been filed by
Donald Stern, former U.S. Attorney, who by the way was the
attorney who successfully defended Proposition 2½ when it was
challenged by our opponents in 1981.
We have confidence that this lawsuit will prevail and the
initiative petition process for constitutional amendments will be
preserved for us all.
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