Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reilly Fitted for New Suit

As it was foretold, lo, last September, GLAD is suing to stop the ballot initiative trying to put an anti-SSM amendment on the 2008 ballot. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders holds that the current initiative is unconstitutionally trying to overturn a court decision, specifically forbidden under commonwealth constitution.

A PDF of the suit is available here, as Johanna Schulman v. Thomas Reilly. She is president of GLAD's board and Reilly is our hopeful governor disguised as attorney general.

GLAD had to wait until Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin certified the signatures on the initiative petition to proceed to the General Court. He did that last month.

Among the defense's Reilly staff offered to his approval of the initiative petition is:
To summarize briefly, you argue that the proposed amendment reverses Goodridge and therefore is barred by art. 48's provision excluding petitions relating to the "“reversal of a judicial decision." But the Supreme Judicial Court has clearly ruled that that phrase in art. 48 was used in a very special and limited sense, to refer to proposals relating to the "recall of judicial decisions." "Recall of judicial decisions"” was a proposal, made in 1912 by Theodore Roosevelt but widely rejected by 1918, that would have allowed voters to directly reject, as wrongly decided, state courts'’ rulings that state laws were unconstitutional, and to put those laws back into effect.
Note: You can view the whole letter holding Reilly's posture on the initiatives' page in the right column of 05-02. It opens an .rtf file.

GLAD's press release is good reading. It includes the history of the ballot initiative procedure in Massachusetts. Legal Director Gary Buseck make an observation close to our hearts, writing:
"Let the people vote" is not the answer to every question that confronts our democracy. The citizens of Massachusetts, who ratified the creation of the Initiative and Referendum process in 1918, recognized that putting basic human rights to vote was undemocratic; and it is the Attorney GeneralĂ‚’s responsibility to enforce that policy. Moreover, the Legislature –– the people'’s representatives – has now repeatedly spoken on this question and rejected discrimination in marriage.
GLAD hopes that the Supreme Judicial schedules and hears this case this spring. This is a complex issue and the result is not sure for either side. We have argued that if Reilly had vision and guts, he would have followed the obvious intent of Article 48, as cited in the suit.

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