Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lost Still Missing: Moral Rectitude Respect For the Constitution and the Rights of the Citizenry

If found, please return to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Massachusetts General Court (see updates below).


BREAKING NEWS: The state's highest court is refusing to order lawmakers to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, saying it had no power to force another branch of government to act.

This, of course, is the same judicial body that ordered the Massachusetts State Legislature to enact a law legalizing gay marriage, once they ruled that the State Constitution, in its current form, did not prohibit same-sex marriages.

Nope, no politically-driven agenda there. Move along.

From the story found here:

The state's highest court on Wednesday said even though lawmakers have defied their constitutional duties by failing to vote on a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, the court has no legal authority to force them to act.

So, even if elected officials in the Commonwealth are suspected of being in defiance of their constitutional duties, and that matter is brought before the courts by a group of citizens, as is their right under the laws of the Commonwealth, the SJC says they are powerless to intervene on such matters.

Can someone explain to me, then, why Massachusetts even has a State Constitution? Or a Supreme Judicial Court, for that matter.

Needless to say, this ruling will be hailed as a great victory by many on the "progressive" side of the fence down in the Bay State. You see, tyranny and the usurpation of the rights of the people [and due process of law - ed.] are perfectly acceptable. Just so long as the tyrants are on your side, it seems.

Gee, I miss that place.


UPDATE: I love this bit...

[The SJC] argued that voters unhappy with lawmakers for refusing to take up the question can vote them out of office.

But, to even suggest that the lawmakers uphold their sworn constitutional oaths of office [gasp!], put the proposed amendment to a roll call vote, and then be subject to the wrath of the voters who might be unhappy with the way they voted, is simply out of the question.

The Massachusetts Philosophy: When in doubt, always err on the side of authoritarianism.

UPDATE II: David Bernstein at the Boston Phoenix's "Talking Politics" clarifies:

The SJC didn't order the legislature to act on same-sex marriage. It gave the legislature six months to try to write new legislation on the matter if it wanted to (which it did not), before the ruling went into effect.

So presumably, that ruling could have also allowed for the legislature to begin the process of amending the state constitution to prohinit same-sex marriages, if they wanted to.

And, now that a group of citizens [gasp - commoners!] has attempted to begin that process, via the channels proscribed by state law, the legislature - to date - has done nothing but thumb their noses at them.

How dare they exercise their right to participate in the legislative process! Who do these mortal peons think they are?

But wait...

Bernstein also predicts that the MGC will, in fact, bring the proposed amendment to a vote before the current legislative session expires.

Now, as I understand it, if the MGC refuses to bring the proposed amendment to a vote, the Governor would have the authority to call them back into session to do so. This is significant, because, if they can time it so that authority falls on the shoulders of the newly-sworn-in Governor Patrick, well, we pretty much know how that will end up.

Not to mention, it would have the added bonus of depriving Romney of a "Watch me crackdown on those amoral sexual deviants" talking points, in his efforts to woo the Christian Conservative voting block.

UPDATE III: keeps revising their opening paragraph:

In a rebuke of the Legislature, the state's highest court Wednesday ruled lawmakers have defied the constitution by refusing to vote on a proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage.

Hence, the altered post title.

Weebs, in the comments, poses the eternal question:

Well, what recourse is there now that the legislators have violated their oaths of office? Can they be removed? Arrested? Anything?

Or, do the citizens of the Commonwealth just sit back and get shit on once again?

We'll see. It seems to all come down to whether they bring the matter to a vote before the end of the session or not. Too close to call, in my book.