Effort to overturn Dream Act unconstitutional

August 08, 2011

Efforts to overturn the Maryland Dream Act granting undocumented resident aliens tuition rates at state colleges equal to those charged citizen residents of Maryland would have voters veto a clause of the 14th Amendment: "No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The interpretation that the equal protection clause covers everyone, citizen or not, was established in a Supreme Court decision in Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) and reaffirmed in Yamataya v. Fisher (1903) and in Pyler v. Doe (1982), the last ordered equal education for all in the elementary and secondary school levels. Extending that equality to college level is a valid application of those decisions.

A republic is a government in which the people exercise their power through elected representatives as legislators and elected officials as executives. A democracy is a government in which the people exercise their power directly. The records of the formation of our Constitution are clear that the republican form was to be adopted at both the federal and the state level.

The exercise of the legislative power by direct ballot is contrary to the clearly stated original intent of the framers of the Constitution. It is not the "republican form of government" required of the states by Article IV of the Constitution nor is it a "due process of law" as required under the 14th Amendment.

Thus, the referendum is unconstitutional in process as well as substance. What part of equal protection for every person is hard to understand? I guess all of it for all too many in Maryland with its long history of ethnic and racial hatreds.

And how much will Maryland waste trying to prevent equal protection of every person?

Ronald P. Bowers, Timonium

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