and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

November 15, 2006

CLT Joins "Health Care for Massachusetts" Lawsuit
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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