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Chuck Turner and home rule

The Globe reports a federal judge isn't so sure the Boston City Council had the authority to boot Chuck Turner over his federal bribery/perjury convictions and wants the city to convince him by Friday - three days before another federal judge is scheduled to sentence Turner, which could make the whole thing moot if that judge puts Turner in prison, since state law requires the unseating of imprisoned officials.

Mike Ball briefly considers the "big honking egos" of Turner and his lawyer, the guy who won the case to ban gays from the St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston, before getting to a longer-term issue: home rule. The whole question of Turner's expulsion seems to hinge on state law - to which federal judges traditionally cede oversight of elections. As Turner acolyte Charles Yancey argues, state law only mentions imprisonment, not conviction, and the city charter mentions it not at all - Turner was booted under a separate council rule enacted after Turner's arrest. Ball cries foul:

Massachusetts has an anachronistic, paternalistic system whereby the legislature treats municipalities like serfs. Each city and town must beseech the General Court for even minor changes in governing themselves. ...

We heard the current version of the role of home rule during the special meeting of the Boston Council considering Turner's status. There his friend and sole supporter, Councilor Charles Yancey, invoked the home-rule specter repeatedly. He held for Turner that unless the city charter explicitly reads the Council can expel a member, it can't, regardless of its authority to determine its membership.

That is what we learned in civics classes differentiated the old Soviet regime from ours. In the USSR, everything not specifically permitted is forbidden. Allegedly in America, everything not forbidden is permitted. It looks like we remain on the wrong side.

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Adam, that's not really accurate. Judge Wolf wants the parties to tell him if he should decide the case or let the SJC decide it. The reason is this is a matter of first impression under MA state law and probably would be better to let the state's top court set the precedent on. Now, given Turner's pending sentencing, that complicates the matter greatly obviously time-wise so Wolf might just decide it, but thats not the preferred method generally. Federalism comes into play here, the fed courts don't wanna dictate to the state courts what the state law says unless they have to.

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Here's the judge's actual order. Apologies for not reading/posting it first; was out of town this morning and didn't have access to PACER (the federal court document system).

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An option would be for a lower state court to decide it and not the SJC. I personally would like to have it go to our high court and get definitive here.

In the particular case, it's silly, but for the larger issue it could be important for other municipal rights and procedures.

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The fed court would only send it to the state's highest court to decide in order to let that court set the precedent going forward. A lower court decision wouldn't be binding, whereas the SJC's would. In terms of municipal rights, I agree with your sentiment that Boston needs way more freedom, but legally speaking, municipalities are creations of the state governments and thus subject to their whim pretty much. It's not the same type of relationship that exists between the fed government and the 50 states. From a governing perspective, though, the home rule stuff in Boston unnecessarily constrains the city significantly.

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just put this guy in jail already!!

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Ask your favorite Boston City Council candidate...
http://anopenbostoncitycouncil.blogspot.com

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Apparently, he's a bigoted piece of shit, too. Or at least likes to employ people who are.

I always find it deeply amusing when black folk are more than happy to ignore the rights of gay folk.

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Both Chester and Charles have made much of how different their politics are. Chuck has been a big supporter of SSM and LGBT rights and Chetty, well, no. Apparently they think it proves something about Turner's claim that they can work together on this.

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As a strict constitutionalist I am following this case very closely.

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Did you go to law school?

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One doesn't have to be a lawyer in order to be one of the people represented in a representational democracy.

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has no shame.

What a blight upon "the community."

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