Massachusetts and the rule of law

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 14, 2006

"The US Constitution guarantees each state 'a republican form of government,'" notes Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, in his "Washington Update." "The question is, is Massachusetts still a republic?"

A republic is a polity in which the powers of the regime are defined and limited: a society under the rule of law. Whether that description applies to Massachusetts is indeed open to question.

On July 12, the Massachusetts legislature met in a constitutional convention, to take up (among other things) a citizens' petition to restore the traditional legal definition of marriage. The state's written constitution requires the lawmakers to vote on that measure. They chose instead to postpone a vote until-- conveniently-- after this year's elections.

Will they hold the vote, then, in November? Maybe. And maybe not. Back in 2002, faced with a similar petition, the legislature adjourned without taking a vote. The constitution said they were required to vote. They didn't.

In a society that is not under the rule of law, the people in power can do anything that you can't stop them from doing. Sound familiar?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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