Proposed “Protection of Marriage” Constitutional Amendment
Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Opinion
In a last ditch attempt to revive the measure before it was to die on December 31, 2002 at midnight, Edward Pawlick, the founder of MCM and the primary funder of its activities, threatened to sue Governor Jane Swift if she did not order the legislature back into session to consider the measure again. As a result of this pressure, Governor Swift requested an eleventh hour advisory opinion from the Supreme Judicial Court as to whether she had an obligation to call the legislature back into session. Senate President Thomas Birmingham submitted a similar request for an opinion from the Court as to his responsibility and that of the legislature regarding continued action on the measure. GLAD submitted a brief arguing that both the Governor and the legislature had already discharged their duties relative to the proposed amendment.
On December 20th, the SJC answered the questions presented to it by Acting Governor Jane Swift and Senate President Thomas Birmingham concerning the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention, the status of the DOMA initiative, and the continuing responsibilities of the Acting Governor and the Legislature for the rest of the legislative session, if any. Despite GLAD’s arguments to the contrary, the SJC ruled that adjournment did not constitute final action on the initiative. As such, the Governor could order the legislature back into session, but was not required to do so. The Court declined to answer Swift’s question about calling the legislature back into session, as well as Birmingham’s questions about the implications of potential actions if the legislature were convened in another Constitutional Convention by or before December 31. Without an affirmative mandate to pursue further action, neither the Governor nor the legislature chose to reopen the amendment initiative, and the matter died at the end of the legislative session on December 31, 2002.