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Not a Model of Legislative Clarity, That’s for Sure

The Supreme Judicial Court to the Massachusetts Senate: can you please rephrase?

That’s the gist of the Opinion of the Justices to the Senate, SJC-12092, issued May 26, 2016.  The Senate had asked the Court to answer the following question:

“Does House No. 753 [entitled “An Act preserving public trust rights in land affected by ocean erosion”], if enacted, comply with art. 10 and the Fourteenth Amendment?”

In a 13-page opinion, the Court concluded that it simply could not answer the question because:

“the meaning of some of the significant terms and concepts in the bill are unclear to us, the question itself is quite broad and not susceptible to a single yes or no answer, and a complete answer may depend on facts and circumstances we do not have before us.”

Perhaps the Legislature will now revise the bill to address the multiple deficiencies identified by the Court.