Wednesday, December 27, 2006

SJC Same-Sex Marriage Decision: Cannot Compel Legislature to Vote

Earlier today, in the case of Doyle v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, the SJC determined that while the legislature had a duty to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment, the court lacked the authority to compel them to do so. The opinion said, in part:

"We conclude that, while the plaintiffs cannot obtain declaratory judgment or mandamus against the Legislature, and, therefore, the complaint must be dismissed, it is our obligation, in these circumstances, to restate what art. 48 requires."

"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. We have no statutory authority to issue a declaratory judgment concerning the constitutionality of legislative action, or inaction, in this matter."

"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."