Statement on SJC Ruling Upholding Rights to Free Speech and Association in Massachusetts State Elections

The Fiscal Alliance Foundation released the following statement in response to the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling upholding a decision by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office striking down a ballot question that sought to limit giving to political organizations.

Their decision can be viewed here.

Proposed by Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, the ballot question was titled, “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 sought to place a limit of $5,000 on contributions that Super PAC’s could accept. In response to this, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation took action last 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.

When Professor Lessig appealed this decision to the Supreme Judicial Court, the Foundation submitted an amicus brief to the court outlining how the proposal is unconstitutional.

“The Fiscal Alliance Foundation is very pleased to play a prominent role in defeating this latest attempt to limit speech before an election. The proponent’s goal here is to protect elected officials in power by limiting the ability for the public to speak up. This was an attempt by an activist professor and several activist organizations to subvert our rights, but the Fiscal Alliance Foundation was successful in overcoming their efforts,” stated Paul D. Craney, a spokesman for the Fiscal Alliance Foundation.

“The people of Massachusetts do not have to be worried about a harmful potential ballot question. Their right of free speech and association was protected. The Fiscal Alliance Foundation will continue to do everything in our power to protect these rights,” closed Craney.