Massachusetts senate president Thomas Birmingham is asking the state's highest court how lawmakers should respond if acting governor Jane Swift calls them back into session to consider proposed constitutional amendments, including a proposal that would ban recognition of marriage between people of the same sex. The senate on Thursday approved an order asking the court to clarify how the possible directive from Swift would relate to legislative rules regarding joint sessions of the house and senate.
On July 17 a joint session of the legislature, known as a constitutional convention, voted 137-53 to adjourn without taking up the proposed amendments, including the anti-gay marriage proposal. Attorneys for the senate argue that the vote constitutes final action on the proposed amendments. A group pushing the marriage question is asking the supreme judicial court to force lawmakers back into formal session. Swift, who opposes the marriage initiative, has also asked the court's guidance about whether she is required to call the legislature back into session.