Stonewalls Boston Broadside, Ignores U.S. Supreme Court
by Atty. Robert Snider
Recently, I contacted the Baker Administration and I am forced to ask: is Governor Baker a Republican?
Republics take great courage to establish and great courage to maintain. The fundamental philosophy of republicanism emphasizes the unalienable rights of the individual and balances that with the willing assumption of the burdens that come with the exercise of liberty. History tells us that in order to protect their unalienable individual rights, republicans will protect the Constitution and the rule of law with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Protecting republican principles takes different forms. Mundane and lacking glory but critical, many millions just get up in the morning, go to work and pay taxes. To protect such principles on the field of battle, millions of Americans have fought with legendary physical courage from Bunker Hill to far distant lands. What is rare is political courage, which is why we honor those who have acted courageously in defending republican principles, articulating the principles with passion, with honest intellectual sincerity and without regard for their own political futures.
Governor Baker does not use his office to educate and persuade, nor does he defend the Constitution or republican principles. When opportunities have cried out for his leadership, he contents himself with vacuous written statements from his office which he clearly hopes no one will notice: fig leaves of cowardice. A governor who fails to act courageously to protect republican principles cannot be regarded as a republican.
Here is the factual basis for my opinion. My first article in the Boston Broadside appeared in October 2017. I reported that the U.S. Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional the Massachusetts law that made the possession of stun guns unlawful. The clock was ticking; the governor and the Legislature should have acted to fill the void, but neither did.
I drafted two bills which were filed by Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell). Both bills provided for the lawful sale of stun guns by gun dealers to those over 18 years old who had a firearms ID card or a license to carry and who completed a four-hour class. (Bill No. 1249)
Significantly, Bill No. 769 provided that in 209A hearings, in which an applicant asks for protection from an abuser, whenever the judge finds that the abuser presents a risk of serious harm to the applicant and orders that the abuser’s firearms be confiscated, that the judge inform the applicant that she has the emergent right to get a stun gun for her protection.
Thus, the gravamen of the two bills gives to abused women the means to exercise their individual right of self-defense by means of non-lethal stun guns. The bills were filed and considered by the applicable committee. Lacking a budget and lobbyists, the bills went nowhere.
On April 17th, 2018, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts finally recognized the Supreme Court ruling, held the Massachusetts statute to be unconstitutional, and gave the Legislature sixty days to come up with a legislative repair. With profound naivete, I decided to bring my bills to the attention of the governor so that he may adopt an issue that highlights the republican concern for the protection of women and supports the constitutional right of self-defense. On inquiry, I was referred to the Governor’s Office of Constituent Affairs. After several calls I spoke to Mr. Butts, its director. At his request I emailed to him a letter covering my educational summary, applicable work experience (Suffolk District Attorney’s Office-8 years) a memorandum as to the applicable court decisions, an explanation of the language of the two bills together with copies of the bills. He agreed to a meeting.
At the meeting, I explained that my bills advanced good social policy, were already in the legislative system and would be great politics. I asserted that the governor could take the initiative and the credit for this conservative, pro-women issue. I emphasized that what I had done was time consuming, that I was unpaid and that I wanted the package of documents referred to the person in the administration who was responsible for the issue and could speak directly to the governor. Mr. Butts assured me that he would do so. I told Mr. Butts that although I had acted as a private citizen, I was a commentator for the Boston Broadside. Immediately after the meeting, I emailed a copy of the SJC decision and a four-page letter explaining the court decisions and suggested that the governor should be the champion of abused women.
Receiving no response, I decided to put on my Boston Broadside hat and called the Governor’s Press Office. I introduced myself to the intern, Will, as a writer for the BB, requested an interview with the person in the governor’s office who had knowledge of the stun gun issue, asked him to get the papers I had submitted to Mr. Butts and emailed further documentation.
I followed up on the telephone with Will, who informed me that no interview would be given, that I was not to be given even the name of his superior who had decided to stonewall me. Poor Will, the intern, sounded completely uncomfortable especially when I asked him certain obvious questions that he failed to answer.
So that there would be no confusion as to what had happened, I followed up with an email to Will stating that I would write about the governor’s refusal to recognize the Boston Broadside and its readers and suggested that they had time to reconsider. I ended by asking for an email reply to the question why the governor would give the credit for giving abused women the non-lethal means for defending themselves to the Democrats instead of aggressively explaining his own program and supporting it with his political allies, with the social service agencies that help abused women and with law enforcement … so that I could report his answer to my readers instead of just drawing a reasonable conclusion from their silence.
I have not received a response. I suppose that I will have to keep the questions and ask the governor the next time I run into him while shopping at Walmart….