Arundel GOP delegation suit heard by high court

Appeal seeks change in delegates' voting weight

March 08, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

The battle for control of Anne Arundel County's House of Delegates delegation reached the state's highest court yesterday, with Republicans continuing to argue that the county's Democrats acted illegally to offset their election losses.

Representing freshmen Republican Dels. Herbert H. McMillan and Donald Dwyer, attorney John Greiber asked the Court of Appeals to give Republicans the power to remove Democratic Del. Mary Ann Love as delegation chairman.

The dispute dates back to a December delegation meeting.

In that meeting - which included two Democrats who had been defeated in the November election - the delegation approved giving one vote each to three Prince George's County delegates whose district contains a sliver of Anne Arundel County. The result was an 8-7 majority for the Democrats.

Before the election, the delegation had agreed that the three Prince George's delegates would have one collective vote. If that system had remained intact, Republicans would have held a majority in the new delegation.

The county's delegation largely controls what local legislation makes its way to the floor of the House.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck dismissed the Republican lawsuit in early January, sparking the appeal that led to yesterday's hearing.

Greiber argued that delegation rules prohibit changing the rules in December when the House is not in session. And, he said, the December vote thwarted the concept of "one man, one vote."

If "one man, one vote" applied, the Prince George's delegates would not be entitled to the same voting power as the delegates whose districts are solely in the county, Greiber said. The three delegates based in Prince George's represent about 24,000 people in Anne Arundel. A full district contains a little more than 110,000 people.

Arguing on behalf of Love, Assistant Attorney General Robert Zarnoch said the case was political, not legal, and therefore not one for the appeals court to decide. He also said "one man, one vote" did not apply to the delegation.

Greiber called the Democrats' rule change a maneuver of arrogance.

"Is arrogance something that is forbidden in politics?" asked Judge Dale R. Cathell, leading to laughter.

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