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Ya know, because why shouldn't a lawmaker negligently toss around the word impeachment?

by Jeremy Hooper

Don-DwyerYou know, most social conservatives at least wait until a public figure has issued an opinion before they start bringing up the idea of impeachment. Oh, but not Maryland's most reliably far-reaching for of the 'mos, Don Dwyer (pic.). The Republican state delegate has penned a letter to the office of State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh, saying that if MD Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D) should issue an opinion that calls for any recognition of marriage outside of one man, one woman, then he, Dwyer, will begin the process of booting the AG from office.

Now, we're not joking:

February 16, 2010

Office of State Prosecutor
Robert A. Rohrbaugh
300 East Joppa Road
Hampton Plaza, Suite 410
Towson, MD 21286-3152

Dear Mr. Rohrbaugh,

As you know, Attorney General Gansler is in the process of writing an opinion regarding Maryland’s recognition of out of state same sex marriages. There is speculation by the gay and lesbian community that the opinion will be written in a way that Maryland, under the authority of the Attorney General’s “new opinion”, will recognize those of the same sex that are married in another state.

In 1973 the Maryland General Assembly placed in law the requirement that Maryland would only recognize a marriage between a man and a woman. Since that time, there have been many attempts to legalize same sex marriages or civil unions across this country. The legislature is charged with making or changing law.

On February 24, 2004 Chairman Vallario received an opinion from the Attorney General’s office regarding same sex marriages and civil unions entered into in other states. In this opinion under “Current Law” the Attorney General states, “it is my view that Family Law section 2-201 currently prohibits the recognition of a same sex marriage validly contracted in another state.”

On September 18, 2007 the high court upheld Maryland’s marriage law as Constitutional. In that case Attorney General Gansler was at the helm as his office defended the State of Maryland’s marriage law. Following the decision, spokeswoman Raquel Guillory (of the Attorney General’s Office) said the office thinks the judges "reached the correct legal conclusion," adding that they were "also correct in recognizing that it is now up to the General Assembly to decide whether same-sex couples should be given the right to form civil unions or to marry."

Less than six months later, on February 15, 2008 in an article written by Lisa Rein and released by the Washington Post, Rein wrote; “The lengthy hearing, which drew dozens of speakers on both sides of the most divisive social issue the General Assembly will take up this year, was headlined by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who became Maryland’s first elected statewide official to endorse legislation allowing same sex marriage.”

Fifteen months later, on May 30, 2009 the Washington Post published an article entitled “Opinion to Address Same Sex Unions.” written by John Wagner. That article Wagner stated that, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is planning to issue a formal opinion in coming weeks on whether the state can recognize same sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, his office said.

In spite of the Attorney Generals previous statement of September 18, 2007, the Attorney General has taken sides on an issue where he potentially intends to abuse the power of his office to usurp the authority of the General Assembly and circumvent Maryland’s High Court regarding Maryland’s current marriage law.

In prior inquiries I have made to the Attorney General I recall that any previous opinion written on the subject is held as the opinion for all future questions so long as the future questions are of the same nature as the first. To be certain that this is the practice, on the afternoon of February 5th I called Katherine Rowe of the Attorney General’s office to confirm that this is in fact the practice. Mrs. Rowe confirmed that it was the practice in most cases to rely on a previous answer.

Maryland law is clear that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state. Additionally Maryland’s high court held in 2007 that our current law was constitutional and that it would be up to the General Assembly to decide whether same-sex couples should be given the right to form civil unions or to marry.

The constitutional authority of the Attorney General is spelled out under Article V SEC. 3, which states:

(a) The Attorney General shall:

(1) Prosecute and defend on the part of the State all cases pending in the Appellate Courts of the State, in the Supreme Court of the United States or the inferior Federal Courts, by or against the State, or in which the State may be interested, except those criminal appeals otherwise prescribed by the General Assembly.

(2) Investigate, commence, and prosecute or defend any civil or criminal suit or action or category of such suits or actions in any of the Federal Courts or in any Court of this State, or before administrative agencies and quasi legislative bodies, on the part of the State or in which the State may be interested, which the General Assembly by law or joint resolution, or the Governor, shall have directed or shall direct to be investigated, commenced and prosecuted or defended.

(3) When required by the General Assembly by law or joint resolution, or by the Governor, aid any State's Attorney or other authorized prosecuting officer in investigating, commencing, and prosecuting any criminal suit or action or category of such suits or actions brought by the State in any Court of this State.

(4) Give his opinion in writing whenever required by the General Assembly or either branch thereof, the Governor, the Comptroller, the Treasurer or any State's Attorney on any legal matter or subject.

(b) The Attorney General shall have and perform any other duties and possess any other powers, and appoint the number of deputies or assistants, as the General Assembly from time to time may prescribe by law.

(c) The Attorney General shall receive for his services the annual salary as the General Assembly from time to time may prescribe by law, but he may not receive
any fees, perquisites or rewards whatever, in addition to his salary, for the performance of any official duty.

(d) The Governor may not employ any additional counsel, in any case whatever, unless authorized by the General Assembly (amended by Chapter 663, Acts of 1912, ratified Nov. 4, 1913; Chapter 10, Acts of 1966, ratified Nov. 8, 1966; Chapter 545, Acts of 1976, ratified Nov. 2, 1976).

It is clear that the interaction between the Attorney General and the General Assembly is constitutionally limited to simply give his opinion in writing only when requested by the General Assembly. He is not constitutionally authorized to testify in favor or opposition to proposed legislation. His authority is to opine on questions of existing law when requested by the General Assembly.

The Attorney General took an Oath to support the Constitution of the United States; and that he will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the Constitution and Laws thereof; and that he will, to the best of his skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully, without partiality or prejudice, execute the office of Attorney General.

It appears that Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler may have in fact violated his Oath of office on February 14, 2008 when he officially testified as Maryland’s Attorney General before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on behalf of SB290. His testimony was clearly out of the norm, given that he admits in committee that he is Maryland’s first elected statewide official to endorse legislation allowing same sex marriage.

Should the Attorney General issue a new opinion regarding same sex marriage that is contrary to the original Attorney General’s opinion of February 24, 2004, I believe he will have yet again violated his Oath of office given that, since the original opinion on the subject, Maryland law has not changed. Additionally, the Maryland Court of Appeals recognized on September 18, 2007 that it was up to the Maryland General Assembly to decide if the recognition of same sex marriage was to occur in Maryland.

The Attorney General’s Oath requires that he protect the state constitution and the laws of the state. Maryland marriage law has been challenged and confirmed as valid by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 2007. Any opinion contrary to current law that is issued by the Attorney General is clearly a violation of the Attorney Generals Oath. In addition this action circumvents the court’s opinion and usurps the authority vested in the members of the Maryland General Assembly by the voters of the state.

I would request that you review my argument as I consider bringing impeachment charges against the Attorney General for violations of his Oath of office as well as his circumvention of the court’s opinion and his usurping the authority of the General Assembly.

I would welcome your comments and advice.

Constitutionally Yours,

Don H. Dwyer, Jr.

C.C. Members of the Maryland General Assembly

*Source: Letter to State Prosecuter Rohrbaugh [Facebook]

"Speak now or forever hold your peace" = Line that all gay couples will inevitable be able to hear.

Speak incredibly prematurely in order to withhold peace = The kind of feverish mentality that will get us there even sooner.

Thanks, Del. Dwyer.


**UPDATE, 2/24: The AG opinion is out. And it's not good for Dwyer.

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Your thoughts

Because nothing speaks "christian love" better than blackmail for Jeebus.

Posted by: Dale | Feb 17, 2010 5:05:13 PM

Aaaaaw. So the AG is going to usurp the State Supreme Court and the General Assembly. Amazing how their side feels that it is the courts and/or the legislature to change the laws as long as the courts and legislature don't do anything about the laws. But once they do, the are activist and out of control!

Posted by: stojef | Feb 17, 2010 5:31:57 PM

Is this guy such a "strict constructionist" that he rejects all amendments to the constitution? Because he's clearly rejecting Section 1 of the Fourteenth, the equal-protection clause. I wonder if that means that he also rejects Section 2 of that amendment. Because, y'know, those God-ordained Founders agreed that African-Americans were only 60% human.

Posted by: Denys Howard | Feb 17, 2010 6:49:11 PM

His website is like a trip back to 1996 - scant graphics, mostly text, mostly links to other pages.

Apparently, a constituent of Mr. Dwyer's wrote to him requesting that a government-funded senior citizens' center stop officially saying grace before meals. His response was effectively "too bad - don't like it, don't hang out there. And oh by the way, Maryland prohibits atheists from holding public office and I think that's *great!*" (paraphrasing)

I guess he didn't like the activist justices of the SCOTUS in their unanimous 1961 decision against the state of Maryland for violating the 6th and 14th amendments with that bit of their constitution. That or he just plain didn't know.

The guy is unapologetically off-the-deep-end conservative, so I do have to give him points for being honest about it. At the same time, I take away VASTLY more points for being a douche to non theist constituents.

Posted by: DN | Feb 17, 2010 6:57:13 PM

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