Boston Globe
  February 20, 1980

  Bolstering proposed for death penalty
  Associated Press 

  With little fanfare, advocates of the death penalty have begun a campaign 
  to bolster the new capital punishment law in Massachusetts with a 
  constitutional amendment.

  Last year, when Sen. Arthur J. Lewis Jr. and Rep. Michael F. Flaherty 
  guided a death penalty bill through the Legislature, they said the measure 
  could stand on its own.

  This year, however, the two Boston Democrats have filed a proposed 
  constitutional amendment on behalf of their cause, conceding that a 
  "cloud" of legal doubt hangs over the new statute.

  Suffolk County Dist. Atty. Newman Flanagan recently asked the state 
  Supreme Judicial Court to rule on the constitutionality of the new law. 
  The court has held off from considering the case so far, but may act soon 
  because murder cases that could be affected by the law have started to 

  Flaherty, cochairman of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, predicted 
  after a committee hearing yesterday that the House and Senate would push 
  through an amendment even if a filibuster develops.

  "We'll get a good percentage of both branches of the Legislature voting 
  for it . . . . I think everyone wants to get that cloud removed," he said.

  The "cloud" is a reference to a 1977 ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court 
  that a nearly identical death penalty bill would, if passed, violate the 
  state constitution's ban on "cruel or unusual punishment."

  The amendment would keep the ban, but keep the death penalty from being 
  outlawed because of it.

  The Lewis-Flaherty amendment, and a similar bill filed by Republicans,
  drew relatively little comment from members of the public attending the 

  Gretchen McKay Ashton filed a statement against the amendments on behalf 
  of the Boston-based Committee Against Executions. Asserting that the death 
  penalty has been eliminated in nearly every "mature" society except the 
  United States and the Soviet Union, she said executions tend to be used 
  mostly against the poor and blacks and fail to deter crime.

  Additional opposition came from school-prayer advocate Rita Warren of 
  Brockton. She said she could not endorse capital punishment until judges 
  are elected, instead of appointed.