Judicary Committee Approves Amendment Limiting Free Speech

MEDIA RELEASE | Massachusetts Family Institute
For immediate release
Contact: Lisa Barstow (617) 480-1719 | [email protected]

Judicary Committee Approves Amendment Limiting Free Speech
Curtails “Subject Matter” of Citizen Initiative Petitions

Woburn, MA – May 9, 2011 – In another stinging effort to limit citizen involvement in government, members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary voted on May 5 to advance SB 12—an amendment that would stymie the ability of citizens of Massachusetts to have a voice in amending their constitution.

SB 12, and a corresponding measure HB 1830 which would more than double the number of signatures required to bring a citizen initiative to the ballot, requires approval by a majority of the legislature in a Constitutional Convention that convenes on Wednesday.

“These parallel amendments would effectively kill the constitutional rights of citizens to direct their democracy,” said Kris Mineau, president, Massachusetts Family Institute.

“The language in SB 12 is so broad and elusive that observers can only surmise the intent of the measure is to do away with the right of the citizen petition process all together,” added Mr. Mineau. “It’s another example of elected officials saying, ‘we know best,’ seeking to rid themselves of the nuisance of being accountable to the people and their principles.”

SB 12 states: “No initiative petition shall propose a constitutional amendment that would restrict the rights set forth in this constitution to freedom and equality, or the right of each individual to be protected by society in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, according to standing laws.”

This vague, broad and elusive language could apply to almost any topic, effectively taking away the right of citizens to amend their constitution. And the accompanying House measure, which remains on the Constitutional Convention docket to make one of the nation’s most stringent citizen initiative processes doubly difficult, sends a stinging message to citizens that a cadre of their “representatives” clearly is on a mission to silence the voters for good.

Massachusetts Family Institute calls on citizens to contact their state senators and representatives immediately and urge them to oppose these radical and undemocratic maneuvers which reduce government transparency and citizen involvement.

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