Maryland Lawmakers Vote to Enable Attorney General Frosh to Sue Trump

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Both houses of the Maryland Legislature have now voted to allow Attorney General Brian Frosh take President Donald Trump to court – without permission from Gov. Larry Hogan.

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 89 to 50 in a party-line vote today to change a state policy that requires that the attorney general to obtain the governor’s go-ahead before filing charges against the president, according to The Washington Post. The joint resolution bringing this change to fruition is called the Maryland Defense Act.

The Senate voted last week in favor of the same measure. That decision was particularly memorable because Republican senators staged a walkout right before a preliminary vote the day before. Needless to say, the measure that just took effect is a controversial change to the chain of command in Maryland.

Ironically, it doesn’t need Gov. Hogan’s approval as would most proposals, since it’s a joint resolution rather than a bill.

Frosh had been pushing to join other states’ attorneys general in filing separate lawsuits against Trump. According to Slate, he had asked Hogan for permission to sue, to which the governor responded that he needed more information about his case. Frosh reportedly argued Trump’s now-stayed travel ban would harm state institutions, including universities, by not allowing them access to all of the world’s brightest minds – a stance Johns Hopkins University (a private school) is arguing in court with other universities.

In a separate amicus brief that Frosh signed onto with other states, he also argued Trump’s immigration order banning travel from seven mostly Muslim nations would harm Maryland medical institutions’ recruiting efforts, diminish tax revenue from tourism and other travel, cause “irreparable harm” to religious freedom and undermine Maryland’s ability to enforce its own anti-discrimination laws.

As of yesterday, Hogan’s reportedly office still hadn’t responded to Frosh (a spokesperson for the governor didn’t respond to a question about whether he had). State legislators fast-tracked the resolution and took it to a full vote today. Frosh can now file his own lawsuit against Trump on behalf of Maryland, rather than just sticking with the brief he joined supporting Washington State’s lawsuit against the president.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Gov. Hogan’s, said in a statement that that resolution adopted today is a distraction. “Today, certain legislators spent more than two hours speculating and philosophizing over what might or might not happen in Washington, D.C. – instead of focusing on Maryland and moving forward on the governor’s robust bipartisan legislative and budgetary proposals,” she said.

Hogan shared this stance late last week during a radio show appearance on Baltimore’s own 98 Rock. He hasn’t been directly supportive of the president, preferring to stay out of discussions about Trump’s short tenure so far in favor of focusing on state issues. Now, he doesn’t have to worry about the responsibility of signing off on a federal lawsuit filed by the State of Maryland against Trump.

Ethan McLeod
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