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08/31/77 ANSWER JUSTICES TO HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES

August 31, 1977

ANSWER OF THE JUSTICES TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


Edward F. Hennessey, Francis J. Quirico, Robert Braucher, Benjamin Kaplan, Herbert P. Wilkins, Paul J. Liacos, Ruth I. Abrams.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Constitutional Law, Opinions of the Justices. Supreme Judicial Court, Opinions of the Justices.

The Justices did not believe a request by the House of Representatives for answers to questions pertaining to a pending bill, entitled "An Act limiting the amount corporations can contribute to influence ballot questions," which would substantially amend G. L. c. 55, §§ 6, 7, and 8, and add a new § 8A, presented a proper instance in which to render advice due to the pendency of the issue of the constitutional validity of the underlying restriction on corporate contributions in c. 55, § 8, before the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of First Nat'l Bank v. Attorney Gen., 371 Mass. 773 (1977), in which the Supreme Judicial Court considered issues similar to issues raised by the pending bill. [903]

On August 31, 1977, the Justices submitted the following answer to questions propounded to them by the House of Representatives.

To the Honorable the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court respectfully submit this response to the questions set forth in an order adopted by the House on June 14, 1977, and transmitted to us on June 24, 1977.

The order recites that there is pending before the General Court, a bill, House No. 6208 entitled: "An Act limiting the amount corporations can contribute to influence ballot questions," a copy of which was attached to the order.

The substance of the bill would substantially amend the scheme of laws regulating campaign contributions and expenditures by corporations for the purpose of influencing the outcome of ballot referenda and in particular would amend G. L. c. 55, §§ 6, 7, and 8, and add a new § 8A.

The questions propounded by the House are:

"1. Would the enactment of section one of said bill which would prohibit committees promoting or opposing initiative or referendum questions from receiving more than one thousand dollars in contributions from any corporation *fn1 violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Article 16 of Part 1 of the Massachusetts Constitution?

"2. Would the enactment of section two of said bill which would limit the number of committees promoting or opposing initiative or referendum questions to one committee for the proponents and one for the opponents *fn2 violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or any other provision which would guarantee the right to associate?

"3. Would the enactment of section three of said bill which would limit corporations to contributions of one thousand dollars in the aggregate for each question materially affecting such corporation, *fn3 violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Articles 9 and 16 of Part 1 of the Massachusetts Constitution?

"4. Would the enactment of said section three of said bill which would prohibit corporations from expending more than one thousand dollars in the aggregate for the purpose of influencing the vote on any question which materially affects the corporation *fn4 violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Articles 9 and 16 of Part 1 of the Massachusetts Constitution?

"5. Would the enactment of said section three of said bill which would prohibit persons or political committees promoting or opposing referendum questions from soliciting or receiving contributions from persons, political committees, or corporations located outside the Commonwealth *fn5 violate the First Amendment of ...


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