Thursday, November 30, 2006

Full Court to Hear Romney's Same-Sex Marriage Case

After hearing a suit filed by Governor Romney and other same-sex marriage opponents earlier today (Doyle et al. v. Galvin et al. (SJ 2006-0486)), SJC Justice Judith Cowin sitting as a single justice has determined that the case should be heard by the full court on December 20,2006. The plaintiffs asked the court to compel the legislature to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment, or, if they fail to do so, compel the Secretary of the Commonwealth to place the measure on the 2008 ballot without it having first been voted on by the legislature.

The defendants argued that the issue has already been addressed by the SJC in the case of LIMITS v. President of the Senate, 414 Mass. 31 (1992). In that case, the court said “The courts should be most hesitant in instructing the General Court when and how to perform its constitutional duties. Mandamus is not available against the Legislature…The reason for this rule rests on separation of powers principles expressed in art. 30 of the Declaration of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution. Those principles call for the judiciary to refrain from intruding into the power and function of another branch of government, in this case, the joint session of the Legislature held under art. 48.” They went on to hold that Article 48 of the Constitution “gives to the courts no enforcement role. When the purpose of art. 48 has been frustrated, the only remedy may come from the influence of public opinion, expressed ultimately at the ballot box.” According to the Boston Globe, plaintiffs argued that “the 1992 case differs because lawmakers adjourned the session, giving the governor the right to call them back. In the gay marriage case, lawmakers have simply recessed.”

More information on same-sex marriage, including other cases and proceedings, is available at Mass. Law About Same-Sex Marriage.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Criminal Record Information

Questions about criminal records (CORI) certainly rank in the top five most commonly-asked questions in the law libraries. Now, Mass. Legal Help has compiled a great list of resources to help people get information about their criminal records, including issues affecting employment and housing, as well as how to get your criminal record sealed. We’ve added these to a long list of CORI resources at our Law About Criminal Records page.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Romney Asks SJC to Force Same-Sex Marriage Vote

Last Friday, Governor Romney asked the SJC to force the legislature to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage. If 25% of legislators were to approve the measure this year and then again next year, it would be appear on the ballot in 2008. The legislature voted to recess on November 9, rather than vote on the measure. The amendment process is outlined in Mass. Constitution Amendment Article 48, section 4. More information is available from the Boston Globe.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Shaken Baby Syndrome

On November 16, 2006, Governor Romney signed a new law on Shaken Baby Syndrome, St.2006, c.356. The law does not create a new crime, but simply directs the "Department of Social Services, the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund, other state agencies serving families and children, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, human service providers, and child advocacy organizations to develop and implement a comprehensive, state-wide Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Initiative to reduce death and disability resulting from Shaken Baby Syndrome.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

The Massachusetts legislature is set to convene a constitutional convention tomorrow to take up the issue of a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. If 25% of legislators approve the amendment in two consecutive constitutional conventions, it will be put to the voters in 2008. The amendment process is outlined in Mass. Constitution Amendment Article 48, section 4. For more information on same-sex marriage, see Massachusetts Law About Same-Sex Marriage.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

FCC rules on Wi-Fi at Logan Airport

The FCC ruled yesterday that Logan International Airport cannot restrict the placement of Wi-Fi antennas in the airport. The ruling was in response to a complaint by Continental Airlines. In interpreting the Over the Air Reception Devices Rule, the FCC Commissioner states " enables American consumers and businesses to offer and receive broadband services at the most local levels – at any time, in any place." Commentary and news reports available in the Boston Globe article on November 2, 2006 and on

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

State Ballot Questions

Election day is Tuesday, November 7th, and this year we have three ballot questions to answer. Question 1 is about sale of wine in food stores, Question 2 is about nominations of candidates for public office from more than one party, and Question 3 is about collective bargaining for family child care providers for state subsidized child care. For summaries and commentary of the questions, see the Secretary of State’s Official Information for Voters. Voters who registered to vote by mail after January 1, 2003 may have to present identification if they are voting for the first time in a federal election. Acceptable identification includes: a current and valid driver’s license, photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document showing your name and address. We have more information available at Law about Elections and Voting.