Will Mass. Remove the Judges? the Best Way to Protect Marriage in Massachusetts Is Not to Amend a Constitution That Does Not Authorize Same-Sex "Marriage," but to Remove the Judges Who Subvert the Constitution

Article excerpt

Massachusetts residents have organized a new drive under the banner of the "Article 8 Alliance" to undo the state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) November 2003 ruling for homosexual "marriage." The new Article 8 Alliance strategy would dust off a centuries-old "Article of Address" provision in the state constitution to remove the judges.

The SJC ruling, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, held that the state law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman does not meet the court's "rational basis test" for allowing the law to stand. The SJC acknowledged that the state statutes, past court precedents and common law tradition uphold the common sense definition of marriage as consisting of a man and a woman. "The only reasonable explanation is that the legislature did not intend that same-sex couples be licensed to marry," Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall conceded in the court decision. "We have recognized the long-standing statutory understanding, derived from the common law, that 'marriage' means the lawful union of a man and a woman." Nevertheless, the court upended three centuries of state precedent by writing the Goodridge decision.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the local Catholic Church dioceses have committed to remedying the decision by pursuing an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But the Massachusetts method of amending the state constitution is even slower than the federal one. A state constitutional amendment must be passed twice by the combined legislature meeting as a constitutional convention, the second vote occurring after the next election. Even after the amendment passes the second vote, voters at the ballot box must then approve it. In other words, the earliest a constitutional amendment could take effect would be November 2006. Yet the SJC decision is slated to go into effect on May 17 of this year.

Brian Camenker, organizer of the Article 8 Alliance, sees the constitutional amendment route as not only impractical, but also flawed, since it addresses only the effects of the problem rather than the problem itself. "We cannot amend the constitution every time a rogue court gets into power," Camenker said to Article 8 Alliance supporters in New Bedford, Massachusetts on March 3. "The problem is not that the constitution is faulty, the problem is with us, because we have allowed government to get out of control."

"Article of Address" Method

Camenker is seeking to use the "Article of Address" procedure set out in Article 8 of the state constitution, which states: "In order to prevent those, who are vested with authority, from becoming oppressors, the people have a right, at such periods and in such manner as they shall establish by their frame of government, to cause their public officers to return to private life; and to fill up vacant places by certain and regular elections and appointments." Camenker stresses that this "Article of Address" method is different from impeachment, which may imply a trial for "crimes." The Article of Address for removing judges dates back to colonial times, and several of the original 13 states retain the provision in their constitutions.

The exact process for removal through Article of Address is set out in the 98th amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution: "All judicial officers, duly appointed, commissioned and sworn, shall hold their offices during good behavior . …