Gov. Swift Mentioned in Atty. General's Brief about Lawsuit
The Attorney General's office has mentioned the responsibilities of Gov. Swift in response to the lawsuit brought in the SJC against Sen. Thomas Birmingham by Sarah McVay Pawlick, President of Citizens for Marriage.
Gov. Swift is not a named defendant in the suit, which asks the Court to clarify the duties of the Senate President after an Amendment to the state Constitution has been certified by the Secretary of State, it is obvious that her duties will also be discussed.
The A.G. told the Court the facts of the case, that the Amendment was signed by "sufficient voters" and sent to the Legislature. It was finally laid before a joint session on July 17 "at which time the joint session voted to adjourn . without taking action on the proposed amendment."
The Brief then cited that part of the Constitution which requires the Governor to call the Legislature back to take a vote in that event. It said, "Under art. 48, Init., pt 4 §2, 'if the two houses fail to continue [the joint session] from time to time until final action has been taken upon all amendments pending, the governor shall call such joint session or continuance thereof.' The Governor has not taken any such action."
Pawlick said, "This is exactly the message we have been sending across the state. The Governor is required to call the Legislature back for a vote. She does not have a choice. If we can get the Republicans to recognize that the law must be obeyed, then perhaps, Sen. Birmingham and the Democratic Party will also follow suit.
The Party which violates the law in this regard is going to be badly hurt in the coming election," predicts Pawlick.
"Birmingham's violation of the state Constitution really hurt him in the Governor's race. One gets the feeling that he did not want to do what he did, but he was forced to do so by some powerful people. Even Robert Reich and Sen. Kerry called for a vote as required by the Constitution. Hopefully, we will be able to quickly get this behind us and end this terrible blot to our democracy."
Pawlick is not asking either Sen. Birmingham or the Governor to state their opinions on the merits of the Amendment, only to follow the lawful process and send the Amendment to the citizens for their vote in November 2004.
"Then we can all vote in the privacy of the voting booth as the Constitution requires," said Pawlick.
The briefs of the parties contain some arcane language that would be understandable only by a lawyer, but much of it is clear, says Pawlick.
"We are merely asking that they follow the law," said Pawlick.
The oral argument before a Single Justice of the SJC is expected to be held on October 9.
For a prior in depth story on this subject, see Sen. Tom Birmingham: 'Leader' or 'Dictator'?
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