Md. impeachment effort rejected

GOP lawmaker sought to oust state attorney general over opinion on gay marriage

April 01, 2010|By Julie Bykowicz | julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

A House of Delegates committee rejected Wednesday a Republican lawmaker's attempt to impeach Maryland's attorney general over an opinion he issued recently on same-sex marriage.

Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. of Anne Arundel County had asked fellow delegates to initiate the impeachment process for Douglas F. Gansler, a Democrat, who said Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Dwyer says Gansler's opinion wrongly overturned state policy on such unions.

The House Judiciary Committee rejected Dwyer's effort, voting 15-5 that Gansler's conduct did not merit impeachment proceedings. Del. Susan McComas, a Harford County Republican, joined the Democrats on the committee in opposing impeachment. The chairman abstained from voting, and one member was absent.

"People shouldn't be tarred and feathered and hung out to dry," said Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons, a Montgomery County Democrat. "If you don't like his opinion, take it to the ballot box."

Dwyer introduced articles of impeachment in the 141-member chamber Wednesday morning, but House Speaker Michael E. Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat, quickly pushed the issue to the Judiciary Committee, a 22-member panel that includes Dwyer.

Busch's move sparked a lively debate on the House floor, with Dwyer's sometimes-shouted argument that the articles held a special status and should be voted on by the body. He drew cheers from supporters who sat above the chamber in a gallery.

Delegates voted 101-39 on a procedural motion to send the impeachment articles to the Judiciary Committee.

A spokeswoman for Busch had said that Dwyer's resolution likely was out of order, but Busch allowed it to be offered. "I felt it was important for the integrity of the House," he said.

Dwyer and other Republicans said Busch corrupted the process by disallowing a full-chamber vote. In the committee, Dwyer refused to speak about the merits of his impeachment articles, saying that to do so would "validate" what he called a "kangaroo court."

"I'm not going to continue to move forward in this charade," Dwyer said before leaving the witness table.

Dwyer also objected to the committee not allowing the public to testify at the hearing and limiting discussion to delegates.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., a Democrat whose district encompasses Calvert and Prince George's counties, ordered a brief recess. Delegates returned after about 20 minutes and rejected Dwyer's measure.

Baltimore Sun reporter Annie Linskey contributed to this article.

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