To the editor:
Harvard Alum for Attorney General: Why Students at Harvard and Beyond Should Vote For Maura Healey
Let’s face it: The Massachusetts Attorney General’s race rarely captures the full attention of voters. But in an election season in which an unusually high number of political offices are up for grabs, Maura Healey ‘92 is turning heads.
This is nothing new for Maura. As a Kirkland House resident, Maura did the typical Harvard student thing and dedicated herself to, well, just about everything. Between her commitment to public service at the Institute of Politics, her experience as a student athlete (she was the captain of the women’s basketball team, no small feat as a 5’4’’ point guard), and numerous other engagements, Maura constantly worked to make Harvard a better place.
The Attorney General’s office represents a unique intersection of law and politics that has proven to be crucial to the protection of basic rights in this state. Two recent Supreme Court decisions remind us just how fragile progress in the public sector can be.
The first is the 5-4 ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, establishing that businesses with religious convictions should not have to cover certain contraception for their employees. Aside from being a distortion of the concept of religious freedom, the ruling places basic women’s healthcare decisions in the hands of employers. The increasing popularity of the Twitter hashtag #NotMyBossBusiness says it all.
The second is the striking down of the Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law, the 2007 version of which was first passed while Maura was head of the Civil Rights Division at the Attorney General’s office. Enjoying its own buffer zone that technically spans 252 feet, the Supreme Court struck down a law that combined a basic recognition of security concerns at Planned Parenthood facilities with a respect for free-speech demands.
Both of these decisions demonstrate why we need Maura’s leadership in the Attorney General’s office. Her response to these new but familiar challenges has been superb. In an open letter to Senate President Murray and Speaker DeLeo, Maura called for legislative action to strengthen current security measures around Planned Parenthood facilities and work towards creative new solutions.
Maura is a first time candidate for public office, but her campaign is already a bright spot in Massachusetts politics. Early on in the race, Maura was offered funding from a newly formed LGBT political action committee. Aiming to raise the bar for this election, Maura respectfully turned down the money and proposed a People’s Pledge to ban outside funding on the same basic model as the Warren-Brown senate race of 2012. Just last week, Maura’s opponent Warren Tolman finally agreed to sign the Pledge. Maura’s bold approach has set a uniquely respectful tone for the Attorney General’s race that should serve as a model for politicians everywhere.
For those of us who are politically active, there is a lot going on this election season. The gubernatorial candidates will receive the majority of the attention, and there will be no shortage of other contested offices. But those immediately infamous Supreme Court decisions demonstrate just how important the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office will be moving forward.
For those of us who are not politically active, Maura is a fantastic reason to become more involved. If you believe in LGBT rights, women’s healthcare, and ending gun violence, a vote for Maura will help shape your community in a positive way. This September 9th, please join me in voting for Maura Healey in the Democratic Primary. Together, we can make sure that Maura’s work at Harvard was just the beginning.
Joshua C. Barthel ‘16