Amicus Brief Filed at SJC to Protect Political Speech and Association in Massachusetts State Elections

Last August, Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig filed paperwork at the Attorney General’s office seeking to place a referendum on the 2024 ballot that would limit political speech in elections.

The name of Professor’s Lessig’s proposed ballot question is, “Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to Limiting Political contributions to Independent Expenditure PACs.” An independent expenditure PAC is a Super PAC, and all Super PACs treat individuals, corporations, and unions the same.

Professor Lessig’s ballot question would place a limit of $5,000 on contributions that Super PAC’s could accept. In response to this, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation took action over the summer and delivered testimony to the state Attorney General’s office outlining exactly why we felt this was an abridgement of our constitutional rights of free speech and association. The Attorney General agreed with the Foundation’s arguments and the ballot question was rejected. Our testimony was used in the reasoning for why the proposed ballot question was unconstitutional.

Now Professor Lessig is challenging that decision at the state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). The SJC will hear Professor Lessig’s arguments on Monday, February 6. Today, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation filed an amicus brief with the SJC, once again outlining why it’s unconstitutional for Professor Lessig’s ballot question to go forward. The argument remains that the question limits political speech and association and supports the Attorney General’s original determination. You may download and read our brief by clicking here.

“Don’t be fooled by the flowery language and political platitudes— this case is an attempt to take away one’s ability to be heard before an election. This is an attempt to silence the public. This is an attempt to shield politicians from public scrutiny,” stated Paul Diego Craney, spokesperson for the Fiscal Alliance Foundation.

“The Fiscal Alliance Foundation will always protect the freedom of speech and association as we continue to argue those points at the state’s highest court,” continued Craney.

“Our brief will once again remind the court why more speech in elections should be encouraged and limiting speech, even if it is authored by a Harvard Law Professor, should be soundly rejected,” concluded Craney.