An impeachable offense?

The argument over same-sex marriage continues, but has drawn a companion sidebar regarding Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler’s interpretation of his job vs. existing laws. Cue House of Delegates member and same-sex marriage foe Don Dwyer:

On March 31, I will be bringing Articles of Impeachment against Maryland’s Attorney General Doug Gansler at approximately 10am on the Floor of the House of Delegates. Please read further as to why I feel that I must take this action.

If you support me, please consider coming to Annapolis in a public show of support for upholding the Constitution.


Maryland recently recognized same sex marriages for the purpose of marital benefits. The recognition of same sex marriages performed in other states was not enacted by the Maryland legislature nor was it mandated by Maryland courts; rather it was the independent decision of Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas Gansler, released on February 24, 2010.

Because this was a blatant attack on Maryland’s current law that states: “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state” and because this action is clearly a violation of the separation of powers related to the three branches of government, the Attorney General was put on public notice that impeachment charges were being drafted.

As if the Attorney General was not in enough hot water, on March 1, 2010 HE DECLARED HIMSELF UNIMPEACHABLE in an attempt to thwart any attempt by the legislature to hold him accountable for usurping their authority. Unbelievably, the Attorney General went to a subordinate member of his staff, Mr. Dan Friedman to write the letter addressed to Maryland’s Speaker of the House, stating that the Attorney General could not be removed by impeachment.

Mr. Gansler’s actions have put Maryland in a constitutional crisis. The highest law officer in the state who is an elected member of the executive branch of government has violated his Oath of Office and has revealed his incompetence, and his willful neglect of duty. As a constitutional officer, he must ensure that the provisions of the State and U.S. Constitutions are upheld in all cases, including a constitutional charge against him.

Attorney General Gansler testified in his official capacity two years ago in support of a gay marriage bill. He said that iit (sic) would be hard to not try to correct an injustice in the law. His testimony publicly revealed his partial and prejudiced position on the subject of same sex marriage. Mr. Gansler violated his oath of office in which he swore to perform his duties in an impartial and unprejudiced manner.

After revealing his bias on the issue, he was asked by a member of the Senate to advise on the legality of Maryland recognizing same sex marriage contracted in other states. Despite the fact that the Office of the Attorney General addressed that very same question in 2004, and despite the fact that no court ruling, or legislation has overturned that 2004 opinion, Mr. Gansler released a “new” opinion in which he “interprets” the law as supporting the legality of recognizing out of state same sex marriages.

In short, the Attorney General decided that a standing Maryland law is an “injustice” and subsequently misused the authority of his office to effectively change the law without having gone through the legislative process defined in the Maryland constitution.

If this goes unchallenged, the next Attorney General is likely to follow this precedent and usurp the authority of the legislature based on his personal bias. As result, citizens will no longer have the representation that is provided them under the Constitution.

The stage is now set in Maryland for a Constitutional show down. On March 31st a charge of impeachment will be brought before the Maryland House of Delegates at roughly 10:05 am. The House Speaker has publicly stated that he will rule the charge out of order citing the opinion that the Attorney General cannot be impeached as the authority for the out of order ruling.

Regardless of your personal view on same sex marriage, the recent activities of the Maryland Attorney General should give us reason to pause. Again, the Maryland Attorney General has taken for himself; the powers vested in the legislature and declared himself unimpeachable and unaccountable to the citizens of Maryland?

In case you’re wondering, I am pondering making this into an Examiner story closer to time but want to do a little bit of research and ask questions first. But in the meantime, I believe Dwyer has a case – at the current time Maryland law indeed states that marriage is between one man and one woman (and has said so since the early 1970’s.) If the General Assembly wants to have that fight, that’s one thing (and this may be considered after the safety of re-election next year) but for the moment that prospect is a no-go.

On the other hand, while Dwyer has a case, the actual prospects of getting Gansler out of office reside between slim and none, with slim having just vacated the premises. It would be a much better move to find a strong Republican candidate to oppose Gansler and perhaps make this election a referendum by proxy on the subject at hand. If Gansler isn’t Attorney General he’s free to make all the erroneous judgments of law he wishes, since it will no longer be as a representative of the state of Maryland.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.