Rogue Conservatives Need to Drop Carroll County Lawsuit

It’s fallen a bit under the radar statewide over the last few weeks, but a lawsuit launched by a renegade faction of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee has been working its way through the courts system and is on its way to the Court of Appeals. And these rogue Central Committee members may be setting the stage to do irreparable harm to conservatism in the state of Maryland unless they drop their suit.

These Central Committee members are taking an overly strict constructionist view of the provisions of the State Constitution. Article III, Section 13 of the Constitution states:


SEC. 13. (a) (1) In case of death, disqualification, resignation, refusal to act, expulsion, or removal from the county or city for which he shall have been elected, of any person who shall have been chosen as a Delegate or Senator, or in case of a tie between two or more such qualified persons, the Governor shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy from a person whose name shall be submitted to him in writing, within thirty days after the occurrence of the vacancy, by the Central Committee of the political party, if any, with which the Delegate or Senator, so vacating, had been affiliated, at the time of the last election or appointment of the vacating Senator or Delegate, in the County or District from which he or she was appointed or elected, provided that the appointee shall be of the same political party, if any, as was that of the Delegate or Senator, whose office is to be filled, at the time of the last election or appointment of the vacating Delegate or Senator, and it shall be the duty of the Governor to make said appointment within fifteen days after the submission thereof to him.


The key phrase is “the Governor shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy from a person whose name shall be submitted to him in writing.” At no point in that sentence or in this section is the number of people who the Central Committee can send to the Governor limited. The Central Committee, if it is their choice, can send only one name to the Governor. They can send a thousand names to the Governor. But whomever the Governor selects to fill the vacancy has to be one of the names that the Central Committee submits to the Governor in writing. It does not preclude a Central Committee from sending more than one name to the Governor. The strict constructionist viewpoint of these rogue Central Committee members is that the Constitution requires a Central Committee to send one and only one name to the Governor to fill a vacancy.


This court case is on the fast track to the state’s highest court, The Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals, however, is not sympathetic to any strict constructionist viewpoint. It’s a political court that seeks to do political things for political purposes. The judges on the Court of Appeals are liberal activist judges that have been put in place by the Democratic machine here in Maryland. They are going to rule against the rogue Central Committee members regardless of the merits of their case. But that’s not the biggest concern. The Court of Appeals will likely rule that the Central Committees are bound by the rules that are put in place by the Governor at the time or they will rule that. They will not take the single nominee viewpoint that is being offered by the rogue Central Committee members.

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So how will this do irreparable harm to conservatism? It means that the next time that a Democrat is Governor of Maryland, that Democratic Governor can establish whatever rules they want to ensure that a more liberal Republican fills any Senate or House vacancy. We have already seen Governor O’Malley reject a Democratic appointee to the House of Delegates based on the fact that he wasn’t the pick that he wanted. It doesn’t take much effort to figure out that a Democratic Governor would, in the future, use the Court of Appeals precedent as a way to reject a conservative Republican candidate in an effort to steer the nomination towards a more palatable, liberal alternative. It creates a scenario where more the House Republican caucus could, in the future, become more liberal and left-leaning against the will of the voters in those legislative districts.

We’ve already seen this happen before in Maryland, in the more benign circumstance of two Central Committees being unable to agree on a replacement in a multi-county district. That’s why we wound up with O’Malley sympathizer Charles Jenkins in the House of Delegates for a brief period of time.

It seems like the real reason behind the lawsuit has nothing to do with the Constitution and has everything to do with not liking the fact that Robin Bartlett Frazier was not appointed to the the State Senate in District 5. While it’s understandable that they might not be happy that they did not get the candidate of their choice appointed to the seat, it is not acceptable to continue to fight the will of the people in court over this matter. There was nothing legally that the Hogan Administration could have done to compel them to send more than one name for consideration. It was the duly elected Central Committee, not the Governor’s Administration, that voted to send more than two names to the Governor. It was a majority of the Central Committee, one that was elected by the Republican voters of Carroll County, that made the decision to send two additional names.

Losing a legal vote is not a violation of the State Constitution. This is nothing more than trying to use the Court system to overturn the will of the voters of Carroll County.

The idea of using left-wing tactics to try to force the Courts to overturn the will of the people does not set a good precedent and hardly represents the conservative way of problem solving. The use of the courts makes gives credence to the idea that this lawsuit has nothing to do with protecting conservatism and everything to do with power. But this suit has the potential to do more lasting damage to conservatism than it could to restore conservatism. The Court of Appeals is not going to take the side of conservative Republicans and in no way are they going to set a precedent of a strict interpenetration of the Constitution.

And that’s why these rogue band of conservatives need to drop their lawsuit before the damage that they may bring about our Party and our movement cannot be undone.

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