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The check's in the mail

One of the key precepts of our system of government is the three branches, separate but equal, each providing checks and balances on the other two. It works to keep any one branch from assuming too much power, knowing that if they go too far, the other two branches can intervene and stop them. The Congress can pass laws, impeach and remove government officials, and controls the purse strings. The President can veto laws and gets to appoint Supreme Court justices. And the Court can declare laws and actions unconstitutional, and strike them down. Overall, it's worked pretty well for well over two centuries, and served as a model for the states when they set up their own government.

Unfortunately, some states haven't followed that model very well.

In Massachusetts, the Constitution spells it out: if enough citizens sign petitions for a Constitutional amendment, the legislature MUST convene in a Constitutional Convention and vote on it. If they want to defeat it, they have to muster a 3/4 vote to shoot it down. But if the number of lawmakers voting in favor of it exceeds 1/4, even by a single vote, then it goes on the next statewide ballot. (Well, actually it has to do this twice, but you get the idea.)

A little while ago, though, some legislator with more brains than scruples found a loophole: while the Constitution requires that they vote, there is absolutely no mechanism whatsoever to enforce that decree. All they have to do is simply "run out the clock" on their legislative session without voting, and what the Founders intended to require a 3/4 vote to achieve becomes a simple majority. Abra cadabra, they've rewritten the state's Constitution without having to bother with the whole rigamarole of actually amending it!

This is where the "checks and balances" should come in. The executive or judicial branch (in this case, the governor and the Supreme Judicial Court) should be able to check in this flagrant, rampant abuse of power and process.

But they can't.

The governor is furious. He can call the legislature into session, but he cannot compel them to vote on the matter. And his term expires at the same instant theirs do, so when they "run out the clock" on the amendment, they do the same to him. He's threatening their pay raises, but that's pretty much the extent of his ability to sway them.

He sought the assistance of the Supreme Judicial Court, but they were of no help. They issued an opinion saying that the legislators were clearly violating their Constitutional duties and oaths, but said there wasn't a damned thing anyone could do about it.
In fact, here's an excerpt of their opinion -- and it's an amazing admission to place in a court ruling:

Beyond resorting to aspirational language that relies on the presumptive good faith of elected representatives, there is no presently articulated judicial remedy for the Legislature's indifference to, or defiance of, its constitutional duties

Let me sum it up briefly: the only group in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts that can exert any influence over the Legislature and compel them to actually obey the state Constitution, in accordance with their oaths to do so, are the people themselves, through elections.

And these are the same sheeple who just turned their entire state government -- lock, stock, and barrel -- to the party that keeps spitting in their faces. I don't believe a single incumbent of that party was defeated, and they actually picked up a few more seats. Not a single leader of the legislature, not one architect of this grotesque perversion of their state's Constitution, even came close to losing their seat. "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Careful readers will note that not once did I say which party is leading this rape of the laws of government, nor what the substance of the Constitutional amendment is. That was deliberate, because this matter is far bigger than either matter. I will simply restate a point I have made numerous times before: this is the sort of thing you can expect when a single party -- ANY single party -- so utterly dominates the political scene. In Massachusetts, one party now holds both Senate seats, all 10 House seats, the governorship, the Attorney General, over 85% of both houses of the state legislature, and a host of lesser offices.

If anyone is wondering why they keep committing these wholesale assaults on the rights of the citizens, it's for the simplest and crassest of reasons: because they can. And the only people who can stop them are the victims of their offenses, and like a battered wife they keep rewarding their assailants.

I'm not amazed that over the last few years, the population of Massachusetts has been declining. What amazes me is that it isn't happening faster.

Comments (12)

Jay, I am more and more ama... (Below threshold)

Jay, I am more and more amazed at what the people let happen. The older you are the more you see it.

You know, if you look at th... (Below threshold)

You know, if you look at the history of the U.S. since the early 1900's, you'd be less surprised. We've been through worse in this country. Consider:

1. Government has a controlling interest in your money. If you do not submit to the government each year (or quarter) exactly what you've been doing with your money, you go to jail. Furthermore, if you don't pay over a government determined percentage of that money, you go to jail.

2. Government has a controlling interest in your children. If you do not send your children to one of the government approved schools, the government will take your children away, and likely as not, you'll go to jail.

3. Government has a controlling interest in your health. You can put into your body only what the gov't deems appropriate.

And this is just the 1900's. Think about it! This is why I always laugh when the crowd comes out to scream that they can no longer make international phone calls to Mohammad Al-Jihad without being investigated.

So it doesn't surprised me, especially, that a left-leaning state like Massachusettes is moving to the point of eliminating the "voters" altogether. Leaning to the left has nothing to do with freedom-- they just burn different witches at their witch trials.

I have heard the politician... (Below threshold)

I have heard the politicians in this state (MA) say they "rule" the people. I have heard that expression from other dems in the federal government. Dems "rule" and republicans "govern". I believe there is a big difference in those terms, and it is evident that Massachusetts people yearn to be ruled. Our government looking out for us...BAN THOSE TRANS FATS, FULL SPEED AHEAD!

"and like a battered wi... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"and like a battered wife they keep rewarding their assailants"

That's the same way I feel about the poor blacks who are trapped in the "Great Society" (a.k.a. inner city slums) who continue to vote 90% or more for the people who created the trap the poor are stuck in and continue to perpetuate and improve it.

A good example of this is related to Gringo's #2 point, which is not an entirely valid point in my opinion. It's not valid because you do not need to send your children to "government approved schools", you merely need to assure that they are educated.

Now the poor do have no choice but to send their kids to whatever school the government wants them to go, thanks to the democrats (so Gringo's point is valid in that single case). Thanks to the democrats, only the wealthier citizens can have their children educated where ever they please.

Hold on a sec now... could ... (Below threshold)

Hold on a sec now... could I get away with sending my kids to the Little Racist's School of Hilterian Thought, or would someone intervene? Just to make a point.

For instance, I don't think I could send my kids to an apprenticeship at a pharmacy to get them educated-- it would accomplish a lot for them, but it wouldn't be a government approved form of education.

GOOD for the courts! They c... (Below threshold)

GOOD for the courts! They can see Mitt's ridiculous political ploy for what it is. GARBAGE!!! Mass is a liberal state and no amount of crackpot christianity is going to change that. People here support gay marriage almost two to one. If you don't like it, MOVE!

Ironic that Boston was the ... (Below threshold)

Ironic that Boston was the home of the original Tea Party and subsequent birth of the revolution.

They seriously need another tea party.

So in liam's world, then en... (Below threshold)

So in liam's world, then ends justifies the means. Congrats liam. You're getting what you deserve.

But haven't state courts in... (Below threshold)

But haven't state courts in the past ruled that legislatures must act. For example, to provide funding for schools, or forcing school districts to bus students to non-neighborhood schools?

It sure seems their 'restraint' only applies to issues they disagree with.

More to the point, Clancy:<... (Below threshold)

More to the point, Clancy:

Liam, if 2/3 of the people of the state support gay marriage, why the hell are they fighting so hard to deny those people the chance to vote against it? That would kill the matter for good, wouldn't it?

If I lived there (shudder), I would vote against the ban. But I am appalled by the utter perversion of the established process being done.


Although I suspect 2/3 of t... (Below threshold)

Although I suspect 2/3 of this Godforsaken hellhole's population do support gay "marriage," I'd ignore Liam anyway. He's one of those trolls who bleats "it's been a year since gay marriage, and the sky hasn't fallen! You theocrat Christers are all a bunch of scaredy-cats!" but in the same voice says "so what if school SAT scores are falling! We haven't given them enough time to educate our children! Give us more money and another ten or twenty years! You can't put a timeline on things like that!" Asshat.

"If you don't like it, MOVE!"

Oh, I will, Liam. In a state whose most honored political figures are an empty suit who got elected because he wasn't a scary black man, a flatulent crapweasel of a senator who murdered an inconvenient campaign worker, another senator who is a mincing elitist gigolo, and yet another senator who's a lisping gay pimp, I'm not surprised clowns like you feel at home. The day I see Stockbridge in my rear view mirror will be the happiest day of my life.

But haven't state ... (Below threshold)
But haven't state courts in the past ruled that legislatures must act. For example, to provide funding for schools, or forcing school districts to bus students to non-neighborhood schools?

I thought the exact same thing. This all turns on Mass law, though, so it may be the case that that state has different state constitutional law on separation of power. The answer will have to be found in the opinion and in the court's application of precedent.






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