Governor Romney is using some muscle to protect marriage in Massachusetts.
Governor Mitt Romney yesterday filed emergency legislation that would enable him to seek a stay of the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision authorizing gay marriage in Massachusetts.
Romney said the legislation is necessary because, following passage of a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and woman, the Attorney General declined to seek a stay of the Court’s decision, and he also declined to appoint a Special Assistant Attorney General to request the stay on the Governor’s behalf.
Former Supreme Judicial Court Judge Joseph R. Nolan, in a separate letter to legislators, said he has reviewed the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health and believes “there are compelling legal reasons” for the court to issue a stay.
“The historic action taken by the Legislature in response to the Goodridge decision represents a significant change in circumstances in this case. This change in circumstances cannot be ignored,” Nolan said.
Nolan, who served on the SJC from 1981 until his retirement in 1995, has agreed to the Governor’s request to assist in the effort to seek a stay.
Romney said the legislation “will allow me to protect the integrity of the constitutional process” and “preserve the right of the citizens to make this decision rather than having it made for them by the Court.”
Meanwhile, the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics will today release a letter to city and town clerks notifying them of regional information sessions that will provide a forum for instructions on how to proceed with gay marriage should the Governor be unsuccessful in obtaining a stay of the Goodridge decision.
The Court stayed its original decision issued in November for 180 days to allow the Legislature to act “as they may deem appropriate.” Subsequently, the Legislature voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that directly contradicts the Court’s decision by defining marriage as the union of a man and woman.
Under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 12, Section 3, the Attorney General has control over the conduct of litigation involving the Commonwealth, which includes the power to make policy determinations regarding legal strategy.
The Governor’s bill would carve a narrow exception to this law for the purpose of allowing the Executive Branch to appear before the SJC in the Goodridge case to request a further stay of the entry of judgment.
“I have introduced legislation to change the law, in just this one case, so that I can put the argument for a stay before the court directly, and ask them to respect the Legislature’s action, the constitutional process and the will of the people,” said Romney.