, Newburyport, MA

November 15, 2012

Constitutional amendment 'a big deal'

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

It was great to see a page 1 story in The Daily News (Nov. 9) about three non-binding questions on the Nov. 6 ballot. And it was so useful to citizens to see the results for all the locations in the districts of state Rep. Mike Costello-D and state Rep.-elect Lenny Mirra-R.

With all the attention devoted to the candidates in a presidential election year, and to the unusual number of all-out campaigns area voters faced, even the three statewide, binding ballot questions struggled to get the full attention of voters.

Therefore, it is understandable that all the important aspects of these non-binding votes could not be included, so we are taking this opportunity address a few key points of the ballot question brought on by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United.

First, keep in mind that the Massachusetts Legislature has already voted to seek a 28th U.S. Constitutional Amendment to right the wrongs resulting from the Citizens United ruling. The question was still on the ballot in 170 Bay State towns and cities, because there was no certainty that the state House and Senate would act before their legislative session ended this summer, so both a bill in the Legislature and a ballot question were necessary.

However, the ballot question still mattered, because many citizens had not had the chance to vote on the issue at a town meeting or express their views to city councilors.

“It broadens the picture to include many more citizens,” said Walter Mott of Newburyport. “Now it’s time to move to another level.”

In contrast to all the other Massachusetts ballot questions this year, the Citizens United vote was a direct component of a national process, one laid out in the Constitution, which provides in part for state legislatures to petition the Congress to pass a proposed amendment and send it to the states for ratification.

We believe that voters place a high value on their views and should not be underestimated when they express them as clearly as they did on Nov. 6 (66-79 percent favorable) in renouncing the flood of money that the mistaken Citizens United decision released onto our elections, especially here in the 6th Congressional District.

We appreciate the support from state Rep. Costello and state Rep.-elect Mirra, and hope they will still be in office when the proposed 28th amendment is submitted to the Legislature for ratification, so they can vote for the final step in this federal process.

In regard to the headline on the Nov. 9 Daily News story: “Non-binding questions win voter support, but little else,” we think that anytime the American people back a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution “overwhelmingly,” as staff writer Mac Cerullo reported voters had in this area, then it is a big deal.

Walter Mott, Norm Parker, John Harwood

Citizens United

ballot question coordinators