Concerns have been voiced of how an Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution based on “Corporations are not people; Money is not speech”, can hold up against the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United v F.E.C. case. We would like to address the concerns.
We would like to start with the ruling in Bush v Gore. SCOTUS overstepped its authority when it intervened in the Florida recount to declare George W. Bush President. Florida was following State election laws and would have handled it, as they should have, within their jurisdiction. SCOTUS had no right to intervene at that time and did so for political reasons, not legal reasons.
In Massachusetts, our Constitution starts off with what is most important, protecting the “body politic”. This most definitely includes the election process. If SCOTUS decided to pull a stunt like that, and interfere with the election process in Massachusetts, I would hope that the people would rise up and demand that our laws and Constitution not be shredded by a malfunctioning, and sometimes illegal, Supreme Court.
Clarence Thomas…, Citizens United….
We would now like to focus on Massachusetts, it's Constitution and Supreme Judicial Court(SJC) decisions.
To set the tone of our argument, we cite Bowe v Secretary of the Commonwealth, 320 Mass. 249, 250 - “But what we must decide is not whether the proposed law would abridge these freedoms as they exist under the Federal Constitution, But whether the proposed law would abridge them as they exist under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, for, if it would, Amendment 48 excludes the proposed law from the popular initiative. Upon that question of Massachusetts law, Federal decisions are persuasive, but not controlling.”
Bowe v Secretary of the Commonwealth, 320 Mass. 249 - “We see nothing in either of the proposed laws that impairs the freedom of a voter to express his choice as to men or measures. Indeed, the proposed law forbidding political contributions, like corrupt practices acts in general, would tend to increase the freedom of elections by removing influences upon the voter that the use of money can bring to bear.”
Attorney General v Apportionment Commissioners, 224 Mass. 604 - “Article 21 of the Amendments to the Constitution. The great principle established by this Amendment is equality of representation among all voters of the Commonwealth. That is a fundamental principle of representative government. It is pre-eminently so in a State whose Declaration of Rights declares that ”“all men are born free and equal,”“ and in a nation whose Declaration of Independence asserts that ”“all men are created equal.”“ There can be no equality among citizens if the vote of one counts for considerably more than that of another in electing public officers. The true spirit and meaning of the Constitution is that each voter has an equal voice in the enactment of laws and in the election of officers of the State. Such equality must be secured in all laws for the choosing of representatives in the General Court or the Constitution is violated.”
Bowe v Secretary of the Commonwealth, 320 Mass. 247 - “The people acting by means of the initiative, like the General Court, can enact measures that violate the fundamental and supreme law of the Constitution and that consequently have no force or effect. But no court can interfere with the process of legislation, either by the General Court or by the people, before it is completed, to prevent the possible enactment of an unconstitutional measure. For these reasons we are unable to consider at this time the general contention that if enacted the proposed laws would be unconstitutional.”
Associated Industries of Massachusetts v Attorney General, 418 Mass. 291 - “The initiative proposal is not ”“obviously improper”“ simply because it would place some restrictions on free speech, free press, or the right of peaceable assembly.”