Showing posts with label Supreme Judicial Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Judicial Court. Show all posts

Thursday, September 1, 2022

"The decision also dismisses several other claims the Republicans made"

"THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT on Tuesday dismissed the major constitutional challenge that has been levied against the new state law allowing voting by mail, formally addressing a legal question that has been hovering over attempts to expand the law for years. The court found that the Constitution, which lays out specific reasons why someone may vote absentee, does not prohibit the Legislature from expanding voting access beyond that. 

“Voting is a fundamental right, and nothing in [the Constitution] prohibits the Legislature, which has plenary constitutional powers, including broad powers to regulate the process of elections and even broader powers with respect to primaries, from enhancing voting opportunities,” Justice Scott Kafker wrote in a 61-page unanimous opinion. 

In June, the Legislature passed, and Gov. Charlie Baker signed, a law that authorizes early voting by mail for any voter without an excuse in all state elections, starting this year. Early voting by mail was first authorized as an emergency measure in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and voting rights advocates pointed to high turnout in the 2020 elections in urging lawmakers to adopt voting by mail permanently. But the Massachusetts Republican Party and other opponents worried that mail-in voting would be less secure and raised a host of other concerns."

Continue reading the article in CommonWealth Magazine 

You can read the full SJC decision online ->

"The decision also dismisses several other claims the Republicans made"
"The decision also dismisses several other claims the Republicans made"

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

“We were confident all along that this attempt to block the VOTES Act was meritless”

"THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT will uphold the VOTES Act, the new law that allows Massachusetts residents to vote early by mail for any reason. 

The court on Monday announced that it will reject a challenge by a group of Massachusetts Republican Party leaders and side entirely with Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin to keep the law intact for the 2022 election cycle. "

Continue reading the article in CommonWealth Magazine ->

Secretary of State William Galvin addresses reporters after word that the Supreme Judicial Court has dismissed a Republican challenge to the state's new law allowing voting by mail for any reason. "The presses are now rolling," Galvin said about the printing of ballot applications. (Photo by Shira Schoenberg)
Secretary of State William Galvin addresses reporters after word that the Supreme Judicial Court has dismissed a Republican challenge to the state's new law allowing voting by mail for any reason. "The presses are now rolling," Galvin said about the printing of ballot applications. (Photo by Shira Schoenberg)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

MA News Recap: Some State lawmakers object to MCAS proposal; SJC approves language for "fair share"; Votes Act signed

Mass. legislators urge state education leaders not to raise MCAS graduation requirements 
"Nearly 100 Massachusetts lawmakers sent a letter to state education leaders on Tuesday opposing raising state standardized test scores needed for students to graduate high school.

The letter highlights concerns from legislators about consequences they believe a state proposal made in April to raise the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, graduation requirements could have, particularly among students who have been “disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members said in April they want to ensure students who receive a diploma meet the state’s expectations on a new version of the MCAS test. They also want to push schools to better support those students who struggle to pass the MCAS who disproportionately are from low-income households, students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners."
Continue reading the Boston Globe article online (subscription may be required) ->

Mass. high court rules ‘millionaires tax’ question was written ‘fairly.’ It goes before voters in November.
"The state’s highest court on Wednesday rejected a challenge from business leaders to rewrite the summary of a ballot measure that would raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents, handing a victory to labor unions, Democratic lawmakers, and others who’ve spent years pushing the measure to a November vote.

In an unanimous decision, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office “fairly” described the thrust of the so-called millionaires tax proposal in both a summary it’s required to prepare for voters and one-sentence statements outlining what a “yes” or “no” vote would do.

The proposal, dubbed the Fair Share Amendment by its proponents, would amend the state Constitution to create a 9 percent income tax rate on annual earnings above $1 million, while retaining the broad 5 percent rate for earnings below that amount."
Continue reading the Boston Globe article online (subscription may be required) ->

Bucking party, Baker makes vote-by-mail permanent
"DESPITE CONCERNS by members of his own party, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed a law Wednesday making voting by mail permanent.  

Massachusetts allowed early voting by mail for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Democrats and voting rights activists have been pushing to make the reforms permanent in order to increase voter turnout.  

The new law will permanently allow voting by mail for any state or presidential primary or general election. It shortens the voter registration window to 10 days, although it does not allow for same-day voter registration, as some advocates had hoped.  "
Continue reading the CommonWealth Magazine article online

MA News Recap
MA News Recap

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Supreme Judicial Court decides 2 ballots questions: approves health care question; rejects ride share question

"THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT on Tuesday threw out a ballot question that would classify ride-share drivers as independent contractors, putting a sudden end to what was primed to be an enormously expensive ballot campaign that was already gaining national attention. 

In a 31-page unanimous decision written by Justice Scott Kafker, the court concluded that the ballot question improperly contains “at least two substantively distinct policy decisions, one of which is buried in obscure language at the end of the petitions.”

Boston Globe coverage on the ride share question (subscription may be required)

"THE NOVEMBER BALLOT is coming into focus  as the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday ruled that a question regulating dental insurance can proceed to the ballot.  

The ballot question would require dental insurers to spend at least 83 percent of premiums on clinical costs and quality improvements, rather than administrative costs. This is referred to as a medical loss ratio, and is similar to an existing rule for health insurance, which was put in place by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. "

SJC throws out Uber-Lyft ballot question
SJC throws out Uber-Lyft ballot question

Sunday, May 1, 2022

CommonWealth Magazine: "SJC will consider challenges to all four ballot questions"

"State law lays out the steps needed to file an initiative petition to put a question before voters on the state ballot: get certified by the attorney general, collect signatures, go to the Legislature. What’s not included, but may as well be, is defend the petition before the Supreme Judicial Court. In what has essentially become a rite of passage, all four potential questions on this November’s ballot will go to court next week.

One case that has gotten significant attention is a proposed constitutional amendment raising the tax rate on income over $1 million. The Massachusetts High Technology Council and others are asking the court to change the summary on the ballot to clarify that there is no guarantee the money raised will go toward increased spending on transportation and education, as the measure’s advocates claim. "

Continue reading the article online
CommonWealth Magazine: "SJC will consider challenges to all four ballot questions"
CommonWealth Magazine: "SJC will consider challenges to all four ballot questions"

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Views on the Supreme Judicial Court decision; they got it wrong, right, and 'following the money'

From CommonWealth Magazine we share two articles of interest for Franklin and then 'follow the money': 

SJC decision on Baker’s powers is poorly reasoned

"THE MASSACHUSETTS Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled on Thursday that Gov. Charlie Baker’s various COVID-19 orders were authorized by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Act of 1950, and did not violate the plaintiffs’ due process rights or right to assemble under either the state or federal constitutions. The court’s opinion is superficial and poorly reasoned at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst, and is hardly the end of the matter.

The outcome of the opinion could readily be predicted from its first words, which identified the justice who authored it. Stunningly, that justice during the argument of the case had asked the plaintiffs’ counsel whether he didn’t agree that the governor was doing a good job with his COVID-19 measures. Any first-year law student, and indeed most sentient citizens, would know that the job of a justice ruling on a legal or constitutional challenge to a government measure is not to agree or disagree with any policy underlying the measure, or the results achieved by it, but rather to rule on whether it is indeed legally or constitutionally valid."

SJC got Baker emergency orders case right

THERE ARE AT least two important takeaways from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Desrosiers v. Governor, in which the court upheld Gov. Charlie Baker’s authority to issue emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, the court’s conclusion was undoubtedly correct. The plaintiffs argued that the governor had “usurped” the role of the Legislature and violated the state constitution’s commitment to separation of powers, as well as the plaintiffs’ rights to due process and free assembly. At bottom, the plaintiffs maintained that the governor lacked the authority to issue emergency orders under the Civil Defense Act. That law, enacted in 1950, gave the governor the power to issue emergency orders in the event of, among other things, “fire, flood, earthquake or other natural causes.”

To 'follow the money' we share this article from MassPoliticsProfs

Desrosiers v. The Governor: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Body Slams Charles Koch
"Today the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled for Governor Charlie Baker in a lawsuit underwritten by Charles Koch and sponsored by Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance/Fiscal Alliance Foundation in which MFA sought to undo the governor’s emergency public health powers—just as Covid-19 is raging across the land.  It wasn’t close.

This was really a case about conflicting ideologies. On one side is the view that government should be empowered to help people to do needed things the people cannot do for themselves (the view of Abraham Lincoln, by the way) versus Koch’s ideology, which is that government should do nothing except to protect private property."
Continue reading the article online

Friday, December 11, 2020

CommonWealth Magazine: SJC upholds Baker's COVID-19 authority; MA moves into high-risk COVID category

From CommonWealth Magazine we share two articles of interest for Franklin: 
SJC upholds Baker’s sweeping COVID-19 authority

"THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT strongly affirmed that Gov. Charlie Baker’s March 10 declaration of a COVID-19 emergency and his long list of subsequent orders shutting down and opening up parts of the state economy were a proper exercise of his authority under the 1950 Civil Defense Act.

The unanimous decision, written by Justice Elspeth Cypher, examined and dismissed various legal arguments suggesting Baker had exceeded his authority, but there was an undercurrent throughout the opinion of respect for the governor’s actions.

“The emergency orders as a whole were informed by public health recommendations and serve the state interest of stopping the spread of COVID-19, which is a legitimate state interest,” the court wrote.

Cypher, during oral arguments on the case on September 11, reflected the court’s concern about undermining the governor’s legal authority during a time of crisis. “Don’t you have to admit that Gov. Baker has done a pretty darn good job here, especially when you compare him to other states?” she asked."
Continue reading the article online
Mass. moves into high-risk COVID category

"THE STATE AS A WHOLE moved into the high-risk COVID-19 category on Thursday as 158 communities were colored red and case counts continued to mount precipitously in Lawrence.

The state as a whole reported 50 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks, its highest level since a new, more lenient metric system was implemented on November 6. The state’s positive test rate (positive tests divided by total tests) also hit a new high of 5.25 percent.

The number of high-risk, or red, communities totaled 158, up from 97 a week ago and 62 three weeks ago. There were 92 yellow, or moderate-risk, communities, and a total of 101 in the low-risk green and gray categories."
Continue reading the article online
And from Sharon Machlis, an avid "data geek", comes this rendering of the COVID-19 map as it would have been with the prior set of guidelines.

If the Mass Dept of Public Health were still creating maps under the original #Covid19 risk color scale, today's would look like this: More info and graphs on Mass data at
"If the Mass Dept of Public Health were still creating maps under the original #Covid19 risk color scale, today's would look like this: More info and graphs on Mass data at

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

"served at the district court level before climbing the ranks"

From CommonWealth Magazine we share an article of interest for Franklin:

"SERGE GEORGES JR.’S nomination to the Supreme Judicial Court is poised to make history in more ways than one.

Georges, announced Tuesday as the latest pick from Gov. Charlie Baker to fill existing or impending vacancies, would join only a handful of district court judges in Massachusetts ever elevated to the state’s highest court in its lengthy history.

Depending on the confirmation timeline, his ascension to the SJC could make him the seventh and final sitting member of the court appointed by Baker, giving the governor a potentially unprecedented clean sweep of the entire panel.

Georges would also recast the balance of representation on the SJC. As the son of Haitian immigrants, he could become the court’s third non-white justice alongside Justice Kimberly Budd, whose confirmation as chief justice is expected Wednesday, and another Baker nominee, Appeals Court Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt"
Continue reading the article online


Thursday, November 5, 2020

CommonWealth Magazine: Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt nominated to SJC; State tax revenues up over last year

From CommonWealth Magazine we share an article of interest for Franklin:

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S latest nominee to the Supreme Judicial Court is an Appeals Court judge with a background in intellectual property litigation who built a robot while studying engineering at MIT.

Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt spoke to reporters after Gov. Charlie Baker introduced her as his latest pick for the Supreme Judicial Court. [Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe/Pool]

Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt, if confirmed to the post by the Governor’s Council, would be the first Latina to serve on the state’s high court.

“The daughter of immigrants from Colombia, Justice Wendlandt will bring her voice to our highest court, a voice we need now more than ever,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said at an election day press conference at the State House where she and Baker introduced Wendlandt. “She has served as a mentor for women and girls throughout her career and the impact she would make in this new position, for young girls to see the first Latina woman serving on our highest court in the commonwealth, is profound.”


NOW PARTWAY into the second quarter of a fiscal year that budget managers expect will generate between 4 percent and 12 percent less tax revenue for the state than the last, collections are still running more than 1 percent ahead of their fiscal year 2020 pace, the Department of Revenue said Wednesday.

DOR collected $2.089 billion from Massachusetts taxpayers in October, $62 million, or 3.1 percent, more than what was collected in October 2019, the agency said. October’s tax haul is among the smallest of the calendar year and DOR said the month typically generates about 6.5 percent of the state’s annual revenue.

“October revenue was driven mostly by increases in withholding, non-withheld income tax, and regular sales tax. These increases were partly offset by decreases in meals tax, and ‘All Other’ tax,” Revenue Commissioner Geoffrey Snyder said. “An increase in individual return payments, combined with a decrease in refunds, resulted in growth in non-withheld income tax in October. The moderate withholding increase reflects unemployment insurance benefits, one-time events, and timing factors.”

Continue reading article online

Thursday, October 29, 2020

CommonWealth Magazine: Budd nominated as chief justice; Baker PAC spends more backing Kelly

From CommonWealth Magazine we share two articles of interest for Franklin: 

"Baker nominates Kimberly Budd as chief justice" 

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Wednesday nominated Associate Justice Kimberly S. Budd, the only person of color on the Supreme Judicial Court, to become chief justice — the highest judicial position in the state.

If confirmed, Budd would become the first black woman to lead the court in its 328-year history, and only the second black chief justice, after Roderick L. Ireland. She is the third African American to serve as a justice on the SJC. At 54, she would also be the state’s youngest chief justice in 150 years.

Budd was nominated to the court by Baker in 2016 after Justice Fernande Duffly’s retirement. She is one of three women on the seven-member court, along with Elspeth Cypher and Barbara Lenk."

Continue reading article online
"Baker PAC spends more backing GOP candidates"
"Baker’s PAC also spent heavily trying to prevent the Republican Party from losing more ground in the state Senate, where the GOP currently holds just four seats. The PAC supported incumbent Republican Sens. Ryan Fattman of Webster and Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth with advertising expenditures of $53,251 and $53,594, respectively. The PAC also spent $50,244 supporting Republican challenger Matthew Kelly of Franklin, who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Becca Rausch of Needham."
Continue reading article online

Sunday, September 13, 2020

“I do believe that that authority has been there to deal with disasters”

From the Milford Daily News and CommonWealth Magazine, articles of interest for Franklin:

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s highest court is poised to decide whether Gov. Charlie Baker’s string of executive orders were a legally appropriate response to contain the highly infectious virus or if he overstepped the authority outlined in law.

An attorney representing business owners and religious leaders who sued the Baker administration argued in court Friday that Baker has “turned the government upside-down” by taking significant individual action, rather than executing laws passed by the Legislature, during the public health crisis.

“At this point, the Legislature is left to approve or disapprove of the governor’s policy choices,” Michael DeGrandis, a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, told justices. “That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The governor is merely supposed to execute the policy choices of the Legislature. For the Legislature to make a change, the Legislature would also have to have a veto-proof majority to do so. That is standing the government on its head. That’s not a republican form of government.”

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required) 

"SEVERAL MEMBERS of the Supreme Judicial Court seemed wary on Friday of upending the fight against COVID-19 during a hearing on a case challenging the sweeping powers Gov. Charlie Baker has exercised over the last seven months in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The justices, meeting via a Zoom call, are being asked to declare the governor’s March 10 emergency declaration and his subsequent slew of executive orders illegal and void. The plaintiffs, a group of business owners and pastors, say the governor’s reliance on the 1950 Civil Defense Act for his authority was improper. They say the governor should have relied on the older Public Health Law that specifically deals with infectious diseases and grants additional powers to local boards of health. If the governor needs more authority to deal with the crisis, the plaintiffs say, he should go to the Legislature and ask for those powers.

There was a lot of legal discussion between the justices and the attorneys representing Baker and the plaintiffs, but the judges at various points seemed genuinely concerned about what would happen on the ground if they sided with the plaintiffs.

“Don’t you have to admit that Gov. Baker has done a pretty darn good job here, especially when you compare him to other states?” asked Justice Elspeth Cypher, who was appointed to the SJC by Baker."

Thursday, August 27, 2020

In the News: Zannetos withdraws from 4th District primary; Supreme Judicial Court upholds Sep 1 deadline

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

A second Democrat in the 4th Congressional District race has decided to suspend his campaign and back Jesse Mermell ahead of next week’s primary.

Chris Zannetos, a tech entrepreneur and founder of STEMatchMA, announced his decision on Wednesday, less than a week before the final votes will be cast at the polls on Sept. 1. He pointed to Mermell’s focus on economic equality and support for working families.

“The easy path for me would be to finish this campaign on Election Day,” Zannetos said in a statement released by the Mermell campaign. “But that would only take votes from a candidate who is committed to fixing this issue, who can win this race. There is one candidate who has shown in her career a consistent commitment to helping working people and those disenfranchised, and a willingness to create the public-private collaborations required to solve this challenge.” 
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)


"The Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the Sept. 1 deadline for local election officials to receive mail-in primary election ballots. 
The court ruled Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by Fourth Congressional District candidate Becky Grossman, who sought a 10-day extension of the period allocated for counting mail-in primary ballots. 
The 22-page decision, authored by Justice Scott Kafker, comes six days before a primary where several contentious races are set to be decided including the contest between U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, and the race featuring a crowded field of Democrats running in the Fourth Congressional District. 
At least 1 million registered voters in Massachusetts requested mail-in ballots this year under a new law aimed at boosting voting options, but questions have been raised about the law’s deadlines and the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service, which has been thrust into a major role in the elections."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)


Supreme Judicial Court upholds Sep 1 deadline
Supreme Judicial Court upholds Sep 1 deadline

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"qualified immunity isn’t just invoked in excessive force cases and not just against police"

WBUR has a real good article on the details of qualified immunity and how it has worked here in MA. I learned a few things in this article. One: that the law currently isn't a specific law in the 'books'; it is the result of judicial doctrine developed over time by individual court cases.
"When officers use excessive force and someone sues, police are not always held accountable in a civil lawsuit. That can be, in part, because of a controversial defense known as qualified immunity. 
Lawmakers at the State House this week are weighing a massive compromise police reform bill that could change that legal avenue, making it slightly easier for people to successfully sue police officers and other public officials who violate people’s constitutional and civil rights. 
Qualified immunity isn’t a law on the books passed by elected officials. It’s a judicial doctrine developed over decades, through court decision after court decision. 
Essentially, qualified immunity says a government official can only be held liable for unconstitutional actions if it’s “clearly established” in existing case law that the conduct was unlawful. Plaintiffs need to point to another, similar case already decided by a court that the action in question was illegal in order for the lawsuit to go forward."
Continue reading the article online

WBUR has a real good article on the details of qualified immunity
WBUR has a real good article on the details of qualified immunity

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

"those who care about keeping state government accountable will have their day in court"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Business owners from Hubbardston, Lexington, Burlington, and Marlborough, the pastors of churches in Westfield and Medford, and Ben Haskell, headmaster of Trinity Christian Academy in Hyannis, have sued Gov. Charlie Baker.

They are challenging his authority to declare a COVID-19 state of emergency and to issue the emergency orders that have shaped life in Massachusetts for the last four months.

The state’s highest court will hear arguments in September.

Justice Barbara Lenk, sitting as part of a single-justice session, ordered a lawsuit brought by the New Civil Liberties Alliance to be transferred to the Supreme Judicial Court for arguments in September. The suit revolves around whether a governor can use the powers afforded under the Civil Defense Act to declare an emergency around public health."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The COVID-19 page can be found online