Boise State and constitutional majoritarianism in Massachusetts.
Diligent readers of this blog will recall that before USC’s fall to the Bruins, I was urging the Rose Bowl Committee to invite Boise State to the grandaddy of them all. Having seen a few WAC games over the years, I was sure the Broncos could play with the big conferences.
I was less certain about the future of traditional marriage in Massachusetts. Despite having collected more than 170,000 signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment for the 2008 ballot in the Bay State, Massachusetts’ hard left legislature, under intense pressure from same sex marriage absolutists who fear voters having a say on the issue of how marriage ought to be defined, had resorted to shady maneuvers to avoid taking a procedural vote that seems to most observers to be the obligation of any fair minded legislature confronted with a duly qualified amendment. The Massachusetts constitution provides that if 50 or more state legislators vote to proceed to put the issue before voters in two successive sessions, the amendment will be put to a vote. The number of legislators is set very low as sort of a last check against absurd amendments making it to the ballot.
Rather than hold the vote, though, Democratic leaders at first schemed to let the session die out rather than hold the vote. Governor Mitt Romney denounced this indifference to the state constitution and the people who had worked within the rule of law to express disagreement with the judicial imposition of same sex marriage. Romney brought a suit that asked the same court which imposed the same sex marriage diktat on the Commonwealth to oblige the legislators to hold the vote contemplated byt he state’s constitution.
The court refused to order the legislature to act, but did communicate disgust with the obvious attempt to sidestep the constitution’s clear intent. Pressure built, and today the legislature in fact held the vote and the amendment moved forward. If at the next session the vote is held again, the future of marriage in Massachusetts will be back in the hands of voters.
Many predict that the amendment to return to marriage will fail, and if that is the case, the people will have spoken. Opponents of same sex marriage will have to try again to eprsuade or give up their cause.
But this was a huge win for the idea of self-government and Mitt Romney deserves great credit for patient and persistent advocacy of the idea of representative government where elected representatives craft laws, not where tenured judges impose them. Romney, alone among the big three in the GOP seeking the presidential nomination, has fought hard and now successfully to defend the idea of constitutional majoritarianism, and has done so in a difficult political environment and against long odds.