Lesson from the GOP Lawsuit
I was initially skeptical of the GOP lawsuit seeking to invalidate the tax increases and slots referendum. I was wary of the merits of the plaintiff’s complaints, and that it was a thin veil for attempting to win a political battle in the courts. Constitutional procedure should not override constitutional principle, in this case separation of powers.
As the case wore on, I came to change my mind, a bit. The plaintiff’s complaint did have merit. As Kevin Dayhoff noted:
I went to the hearing with an open mind, however, like many, in December I had my reservations about the strength of the case being brought forward by the plaintiffs when the suit was initially filed. Then as I got away from the coverage of the elite media and began to examine the primary source documents, I began to see the “there – there.”
Actually several dynamics turned me around on the plaintiff’s case. My initial analysis continued to change once the Attorney General’s office began to pitch a fit about deposing the chief clerk of the House of Delegates, Mary Monahan – who has a reputation as a straight-up person. It is my understanding from anecdotal accounts that she was perfectly willing to testify…
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The Maryland Constitution, no matter what provision is at issue, is not “much ado about little.”
It is obvious from Mary Monahan’s deposition that the legislature violated Article III Section 25, and there is enough evidence pointing to the forging of documents. We won’t know for sure because the Attorney General refused to investigate the matter.
The hard question for me was if violations did occur, then what is the appropriate remedy? Over the last few years, the General Assembly has run afoul of the law. The courts ruled, the Wal-Mart bill, firing the PSC, and early voting, illegal. In this case however, the laws that the GOP sought to invalidate, however abhorrent, were not illegal.
I believe Judge Stansfield ruled correctly. As shady and underhanded as the actions of Mike Miller and Mike Busch were, the remedy sought by the plaintiffs is indeed “too drastic a notion to accept.” He is right, and conservatives and Republicans should realize the wisdom of that ruling. While the plaintiff’s should be praised for standing up for the constitution, the remedy they sought would run afoul of constitutional principles that separate the legislature and the judiciary.
Herein lies the lesson:
While O’Malley and the Democrats get to keep their tax increases, the public fully smells the awful stench of their shady handling of the special session. Judge Stansfield noted:
the reprehensible nature in which the Legislature conducted itself
…there has clearly been an egregious lack of judgment on the part of the Offices of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates regarding their conduct in failing to abide by constitutionally mandated procedures
…While the Court herein holds that the legislation at issue passes constitutional muster, it feels compelled to observe that if the actions presented by way of deposition are business as usual for the General Assembly, the citizens of Maryland deserve far better…
Furthermore, as O’Malley Watch points out, Mike Miller changed a senate vote on the slots bill, after the fact, to protect a vulnerable Democrat, who wanted to be both a yes man for the governor while simultaneously keeping his anti-slots cred with his constituents.
After, middle of the night tax increases; violations of the constitution; taxpayer-funded payoffs to cronies and financial benefactors; purely political firings; and secrecy surrounding the climate change commission and BRAC committees: the façade is gone.
Tacit in Judge Stansfield’s ruling is that if we are to hold liberal monopoly accountable for their reprehensible actions, the judiciary is not the venue. This is a political battle, which we must fight and win, in the political realm. That is why they can laugh off the lawsuit as “bungled legal reasoning,” or a partisan lawsuit, they know that the courts won’t overstep their bounds and interfere in a political matter.
The only way to hold them accountable is to vote them out of office.
crossposted on The Main Adversary