Court puts anti-casino question on ballot

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today Attorney General Martha Coakley goofed on blocking a referendum on casinos from appearing on this fall's ballot and ordered the question put to voters.

The state's highest court said the question, which would block casinos in the state would not be a "taking" of casino applicants' property, which the AG had said was the reason to keep it off the ballot.

Instead, the court ruled, the question deals with issues of public safety, which is a matter the state constitution let's voters decide.

Complete ruling, Stephen P. Abdow and others vs. Attorney General and others.



    Free tagging: 


    With so many better options

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    With so many better options for the Suffolk Downs area with such a strong economy (housing, soccer stadium, an affordable innovation district) that will offer better long term jobs and help with our housing shortage, coupled with the fact that almost every state in the Northeast will have casinos in the coming years, voters will see that the casino will be a short term project that will slowly devolve into what Suffolk Downs became, an underused decrepit place that doesn't fulfill the tax promises it makes.
    The vast amount of land, next to a T stop, have so many better, long term uses than a casino that will be underused in 10 years when there are casinos every 40 miles along the east coast. They can only extract so much money from local gamblers, its not a novelty for travelers if everyone has one back home.


    Not according to their owners

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    Not according to their owners. They have said without a casino (and the subsidies they have received and will if casinos are built) they will shut down. Suffolk has been a money drain for years, kept afloat by subsidies and the promise of a casino.

    Not subsidies

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    Sterling Suffolk was been taking losses over the years, in hopes of casinos in the future.


    Then put every hotel mall and store under the same microscope.

    If Coakley is so concerned

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    If Coakley is so concerned with property rights then why the heck isn't her office investigating the bonded warehouses scamming elderly and foreclosed people out of their property with usurious storage fees?

    Sounds more like she was using her position to protect campaign contributors.


    Well, if questions of public safety lead to ballot questions

    Then why doesn't the ballot have hundreds of questions every year? Why do we even have elected officials in a General Court?

    Does Suffolk Downs get their $400,000 application fee back if the voters make the type of business for which they paid the fee illegal? Does anybody remember that we voted on this four years ago and said "yes?" Why aren't people stomping their feet and demanding re-votes for other ballot questions in recent years they didn't like? Can we vote again on having beer and wine at the grocery store? Can we vote again on decriminalized marijuana?

    I mean, what about the first question was improper? We asked MA voters if they wanted casinos in the state, and they said "yes." Why are we asking again? That's not fair to casino developers to just straight up ban their livelihood after spending years developing casinos under the guise that they could operate one in MA.


    This is more of a rebuke to

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    This is more of a rebuke to the corrupt process of licensing casinos to cronies than it is a referendum on gambling.

    I imagine the same will happen with medical marijuana.

    The public wants both things without the graft insisted upon by the legislature.


    Dog Racing

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    There was a ballot initiative that banned dog racing, which directly put two Massachusetts businesses out of work. The casinos aren't even in business yet.


    Ugh, don't get me started on that

    What a great community we live in where some lady can make up lies and the public just believes what she says and effectively bans an industry.

    That should be scary to any person who has a job. That's an ugly precedent.


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    What lies?

    I know dogs are technically still considered property AND we have animal cruelty laws, but the racing rackets have long shown their inability to humanely treat animal.

    If we’re going to allow it, why not bring back dog and cock fighting as well?

    What vote are you talking about?

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    When did we ever vote on casinos?

    I elected state representatives who said they were against casinos and then they changed their minds when the new house speaker said that he wanted them. Since our elected representatives didn't represent us, I'm very glad that we'll finally get to represent ourselves on this issue in the referendum.

    It's not easy to get a question on the ballot. It requires close to 70,000 signatures, which is why we only get a few each time.


    Possibly because this issue

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    Possibly because this issue has been a topic for approximately forever years in the legislature. First proposed by Deval in 2007ish, and defeated by DiMasi, whose buddies would surely have taken it on the chin were gambling made legal. Since then multiple stabs have been made and retracted, until being re-introduced in (I think) 2012 and passed in early 2013 by DeLeo, whose buddies are not operating him via puppet strings from Providence.


    What? There was never a vote

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    Does anybody remember that we voted on this four years ago and said "yes?" Why aren't people stomping their feet and demanding re-votes for other ballot questions in recent years they didn't like?

    Uh, what state are you actually from? There was never a statewide vote on casinos in Massachusetts. Our legislature and our esteemed Governor gave them to us without the benefit of weighing in.

    Please try to pay attention if you are planning on weighing in. Your comment makes it clear why we need a vote, because we clearly should have had one.


    When is it you think we voted

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    When is it you think we voted for this? The legislature passed this current plan. The voters are absolutely allowed to override the legislature's laws.

    What has been up for a vote in the past is each particular site community's approval. The history on that is decidedly mixed, with votes against in Milford, Tewksbury, Holyoke, Foxboro and of course Eastie.


    ... and ...

    ... the legislature is also free to over-ride citizen-approved referenda (subject only to possible political costs).

    The casino law would never been approved absent blatant strong-arming by the brand new Speaker, Rep. De Leo. How I wish we could have a referendum on whether he should, in fact, remain Speaker of the House.


    Pay more attention

    People ask for revotes on all kinds of other issues every year. You can vote on all kinds of stuff if you want to spend at least two years going through the process.

    Furthermore, "we" didn't vote on casinos. The Legislature did, heavily influenced by dollar signs and pressure from Patrick, Murray and DeLeo. Legislators still have to OK this getting onto the ballot anyway - twice. If it gets that far AND it passes at the polls, it's a damn clear sign that no, voters don't want this.

    And for the record

    If you want to get going on the beer and wine in grocery stores thing, I still have maps and a project plan that worked in the past. I'll happily be the first signature AND pass along my collateral.

    Nanny State

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    I guess gambling is only OK when it's scratch tickets, Keno or whatever ridiculous junky-scamming, political pocket-filling game is found everyday in any Tedeschi's and 7-11 anywhere in the state.

    It's either OK or it's not. All or none. Make up your mind.


    Help Me Out

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    Can someone explain to me why we vote on this issue but yet we were not allowed to vote on gay marriage issue.


    The state constitution is a

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    The state constitution is a dead letter according to judges in a few 2A cases over the years. Judges rule by whim and justify it with whatever gymnastics necessary to get their way in this state.

    Sour Grapes

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    Sorry, but just because you don’t like the laws and outcomes doesn’t mean “The state constitution is a dead letter according to judges in a few 2A cases over the years. Judges rule by whim and justify it with whatever”.

    If what you said was true, appeals courts and SJC would be turning over laws left and right. Likewise to anything that creeps into federal jurisdiction and state over-reach.

    That’s not the case.

    Maybe you should look inward? Or organize that band of 5 people that agree with you to get the laws changed against everyone’s wishes?


    You aren't familiar with the

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    You aren't familiar with the many cases where the state supreme court has issued opinions with absolutely no basis in state law or federal. It is why the state has been taken to federal district court many times and been thoroughly browbeaten for refusing to acknowledge law as blatant as the constitution. The state supreme court still doesn't acknowledge federal supremacy on many issues!

    Having the legal standing and financial resources to challenge the state supreme court in federal court makes this a very lengthy process. But it does regularly happen.

    Citations please

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    Please cite specific cases where the SJC has just pulled opinions out of its collective ass and completely ignored both state and federal law.


    Ask a defense attorney how

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    Ask a defense attorney how often state judges hold defendants in contempt for failure to appear because they are in federal custody. The SJC is an immovable object.

    The ruling an charging people

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    The ruling an charging people a non refundable "fee" to file for an appeal (a right) happens to violate federal law and SC rulings regarding charging money for exercising rights. But the SJC is perfectly ok with it.

    Strangely, the constitution says nothing about driving cars

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    And yet, we do, and that's kind of amazing, isn't it?

    The phrase you're looking for (well, or would be, if you really cared, which I suspect you don't) is "equality."

    The Massachusetts constitution says everybody has the right to be treated equally under the law. In the Goodridge opinion (which you can read online, of course), the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that by banning people of the sex from marrying, the state was denying them equality under the law (for example, by not letting them receive the same tax benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples). Therefore, a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

    The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.

    You might be interested to know that even the US Supreme Court has bought into this basic concept. Shocking, I know.


    Both of you are kind of close

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    But come on, people. This is less than a decade old.

    According to the SJC, people have a right, under the Massachusetts Constitution, to marry people of the same gender. Therefore, the only way to change that is to change the Constitution. The process of amendment involves either a vote of 2 Constitutional Conventions (the General Court sitting as one body) or a combination of CC votes and petition signatures (I'm too lazy to look up the exact numbers.)

    Those that wanted to satisfy the possible unconstitutionality of banning same sex marriage made sure that existing marriages would be unaffected. That is the issue with this proposed referendum question, though I don't see how they could or would allow existing casinos were they successful.

    But no, the second element, the Constitutional Convention, that is why there was never a vote in Massachusetts on gay marriage.

    Not quite

    I was around when that one came up. The AG actually certified the question (with gritted teeth and holding her nose, I hope) and it passed to the legislative approval stage. The group got one pass from the Legislature in Constitutional Convention, but the next year the Legislature just failed to vote on it before closing out the ConCon. You need two positive votes to get on the ballot, so it was a no-go.

    If we're making predictions, that's what I suspect will happen here, too. The two year, two vote process gives legislators lots of time to dance around on an issue and voters lots of time to forget about it.

    why can't we vote on gay marriage?

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    you'd lose the vote anyway, ya moron...

    voting on public safety and tax matters is entirely different
    than voting to make a minority community second class citizens



    Move on

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    1. Not a safety issue
    2. SJC has ruled gay marriage is protected by the state constitution. Can't pass a law that violates the constitution.



    Art. XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence.


    Double uhhh

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    The SJC has taken a different stance than the federal court on what "common defense" (or "well regulated militia" in federalese, I guess) means.


    Yeah, we're certainly still dealing with the vestiges of those dark pre-DoC vs. Heller days.


    ... those days before the so-called "strict constructionists" on the US Supreme Court decided to ignore a big chunk of what was actually written in the 2nd Amendment itself -- as well as 150 or so years of pretty uniform US Court of Appeals precedents.

    Who is the Militia exactly?

    I'd like to hear your definition, seeing as how those idiot supremes really bungled it by not reading the bit about militias. If only the founders of the nation and authors of the Bill of Rights had left us some sort of clue as to what they mea-

    "The militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, ... all men capable of bearing arms"
    — "Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic", 1788 (Richard Henry Lee)

    "No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state... Such are a well-regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen" - Richard Henry Lee yet again

    "Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people." — George Mason, widely known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights"

    "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." - George Mason again

    "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People."
    — Tench Coxe, 1788.

    "The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 [and] under 45 years of age." - Current Federal Law I guess we could impose a ban affecting women, children, old people, the handicapped, and fatties (actually this would probably disarm 90% of gun owners, so maybe write your congressman about this one).


    Just to make this huge post slightly more on-topic: You know where I'm not going to go? A casino where I can't smoke and booze isn't free.


    You are ignoring the fact....

    ... that cases dating back well over a hundred years pretty much agreed that the amendment didn't create a primarily individual right, but a right freely regulable by the various states.


    Yes, I am willfully ignoring

    Yes, I am willfully ignoring that, as many of these decisions were for the purposes of keeping native americans and freed blacks from bearing arms. Hell, I'd suspect our state's practice of letting one [unelected!] officer in each town make the final decision on the issuance of a license - without having to provide any reason for restrictions - has its roots in that as well. I'd love if there were data available on the issuance of MA-LTCs broken down by race.

    Taking original intent into account, I will translate 2A to the modern vernacular:
    Having a militia is super-important to your freedom you guys; teh people can haz guns

    Hokay ...

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    I'm going to argue that a bunch of good ol' Texan boys leaving guns behind in a toy aisle are not what the founding fathers meant by "well organized militia."

    By your logic a couple of

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    By your logic a couple of skin heads publishing a hate blog should deny result in your ability to publish a blog being regulated out of existence.

    The framers of the constitution were well aware that opening the door to some infringement of natural rights would eventually lead to a government which no longer respected those rights. The current sad state of our 4th amendment is a prime example.

    So why is it that the other

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    So why is it that the other rights in the Bill of Rights are individual rights but SPECIFICALLY the 2nd isn't?

    Later on the 14th amendment was SPECIFICALLY passed to prevent states from states denying rights protected by the constitution due to abuses by state legislatures.

    Tenth Amendment: The powers

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    Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Not really about individuals rights.

    Court puts anti-casino question on ballot

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    Hey,, why not put the Marijuana question on the ballot as long as were voting on personal freedom choices,,, speed limits too!!!

    how ballot questions work in Massachusetts

    This entire discussion thread shows massive confusion about how ballot questions work in Massachusetts. Here is the Secretary of State's official guide to ballot questions.

    The procedures for "a law" and "a constitutional amendment" are different.

    The state legislature is not required to vote on an an initiative petition for a law, such as the casino repeal petition or the expanded bottle bill or the recent "wine in grocery stores" question. If the state legislature doesn't vote, or votes no, the proponents collect additional petition signatures and the question goes on the ballot.

    The state legislature IS required to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment ... and at least 25% of two successive legislatures must vote yes. The proposal to ban same-sex marriage was a constitutional amendment. It got more than 25% of the vote in the first legislative session, but fell short in the second (after some arm-twisting by newly-elected Governor Deval Patrick). That is why it never got on the ballot.