NEWS RELEASE
January 2, 2007

CLT Defends the State Constitution


In a final effort to save the state Constitution, we sent a letter to the 42 lawyer-legislators reminding them of the two oaths they took to uphold the Constitution, and assuring them that if they do not vote to take up the marriage and health care amendments, we will file a complaint with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.

Below is a sample letter that was mailed Friday morning, overnight express delivery, to their homes. Fourteen were deemed by the USPS as "undeliverable," and those members were e-mailed individually over this weekend.

-- A Sample Letter --

CITIZENS
for
Limited Taxation
PO Box 1147 9 Marblehead, Massachusetts 01945 9 ***@cltg.org 9  www.clt.org
Barbara Anderson (508) 384-0100 9 Chip Ford (781) 631-6842 9 Chip Faulkner (508) 384-0100


December 29, 2006

Representative Salvatore F. DiMasi, Esq.

220 Commercial Street

Boston, MA 02109

 

Dear Representative DiMasi,

When you became a lawyer you took an oath that stated: "I, Salvatore F. DiMasi, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will support the Constitution thereof. So help me God."

Now the SJC has ruled in Doyle v. Secretary of the Commonwealth that, without qualification, the Legislature has a duty under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vote by the yeas and nays on the merits of the initiative amendment declaring that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This means you cannot close the last scheduled session of the Legislature on January 2, 2007 without taking up this issue.

Here is what the Court said on this point:

"The members of the joint session have a constitutional duty to vote, by the yeas and nays, on the merits of all pending initiative amendments before recessing on January 2, 2007 . . .  the language of art. 48 is not ambiguous."

"Even counsel conceded at oral argument that it would have been inconceivable to the drafters of art. 48 that the Legislature would refuse to comply with its obligation to vote on a pending amendment that had been introduced by the initiative process.  Yet, that is precisely what could happen on January 2, 2007, should a majority of the members of the joint session vote to recess without first taking a roll call vote on the merits of the initiative amendment."

"Today's discussion and holding on the meaning of the duty lays any doubt to rest.  The members of the General Court are the people's elected representatives, and each one of them has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth.  Those members who now seek to avoid their lawful obligations, by a vote to recess without a roll call vote by yeas and nays on the merits of the initiative amendment (or by other procedural vote of similar consequence), ultimately will have to answer to the people who elected them."

The SJC has declared that the Constitution of Massachusetts provides that all members of the Legislature have a duty to vote by the yeas and nays on the merits of the initiative amendment.  The SJC says that this is your "lawful obligation."

Although the SJC was responding on the marriage issue, the same duty applies to any initiative amendment, including the "health care for Massachusetts" amendment that awaits its second Constitutional Convention vote on Tuesday.

As members of the Legislature who are also lawyers, you twice took an oath to uphold the Constitution of Massachusetts.  You break that oath if you now wrongfully avoid your unequivocally declared duty under the Constitution to vote by the yeas and nays on the merits of the initiative amendment.

The Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by the SJC, and which govern the conduct of all lawyers in Massachusetts, provide at section 8.4(h) that "It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to . . . engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his or her fitness to practice law."  Comment no. 3 to this Rule states: "Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens.  A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of a lawyer." 

You have a declared duty under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vote by the yeas and nays on the initiative amendment at the further joint session of the Legislature scheduled for January 2, 2007. You took an oath as an attorney to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You have a "lawful obligation" to vote by the yeas and nays on the merits. Your wrongful failure to vote by the yeas and nays would be a violation of your oath as an attorney, a violation of your lawful obligation under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a violation of your professional obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.

I have signed neither petition and have no position yet on either, though I have signed on to the "health care for Massachusetts" lawsuit that is similar to the one filed by "defense of marriage" petitioners. My abiding interest is the defense of Article 48. Therefore please be on notice that I and others who respect the state constitution will bring any wrongful failure of yours to vote by the yeas and nays on the initiative amendment to the attention of the Board of Bar Overseers and ask that appropriate action be taken against you.

Sincerely,

 

Barbara Anderson

Executive Director

Citizens for Limited Taxation

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