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Subject: Suggested Reading List - Constitutional Requirements
Dates: June 27, 1998
Location: Town of Billerica, Massachusetts

Board of Appeals

Suggested Reading List - Constitutional Requirements

The following is a suggested reading list for members of the Billerica Board of Appeal, regarding requirements of the Massachusetts Constitution. Members need to understand that when they act "as in excess of authority" [see Dougherty v. Billerica Board of Appeals, Appeals Court of Massachusetts] such decisions that lie outside of their lawful authority, also fail to meet Massachusetts Constitution requirements. Potential transgressions [i.e., ignoring either constitutional requirements or case law] have severe civil rights, criminal and other penalties and are prosecutable personally, without protection of the usual governmental immunities. To help board members, the following is a brief list of key constitutional requirements:

  • Article V - Governmental agents are accountable to the people.
  • Article VII - Government is not for profit of any one man.
  • Article XI - Recourse for wrongs of government.
  • Article XVIII - Constant observance of goverment [by the people].
  • Article XIX - Redress for wrongs of governmental agents.
  • Article XX - Government cannot suspend laws except by legislation [General Court].
  • Article XXIII - Governmental agents cannot levy taxes or charges without authority.
  • Article XXX - Separation of powers [judicial v. legislative].

  • WWW Links are above and text excerpts are also shown below as follows:

    Massachusetts Constitution - PART THE FIRST - A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Article V. All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.

    Article VII. Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.

    Article XI. Every subject of the commonwealth ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws.

    Article XVIII. A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, 12 industry, and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government. The people ought, consequently, to have a particular attention to all those principles, in the choice of their officers and representatives: and they have a right to require of their lawgivers and magistrates, an exact and constant observance of them, in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the good administration of the commonwealth.

    Article XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions, or remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer. [See Amendments, Art. XLVIII, The Initiative, II, sec. 2.]

    Article XX. The power of suspending the laws, or the execution of the laws, ought never to be exercised but by the legislature, or by authority derived from it, to be exercised in such particular cases only as the legislature shall expressly provide for. [See Amendments, Arts. XLVIII, I, Definition and LXXXIX.]

    Referenced Sections from above:

    Article XXIII. No subsidy, charge, tax, impost, or duties, ought to be established, fixed, laid, or levied, under any pretext whatsoever, without the consent of the people or their representatives in the legislature.

    Article XXX. In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.


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