Judicial Watch: Activists Will No Longer Challenge Maryland DREAM Act Referendum

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Dec 7, 2011) - Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today announced developments in the MDPetitions.com legal action over whether Maryland voters will have the opportunity to directly consider "tuition benefits" for illegal alien students. Pursuant to a Joint Stipulation signed on December 5, 2011, Casa de Maryland and illegal alien activist plaintiffs will no longer challenge the "sufficiency and number of the petition signatures" collected by MDPetitions.com to place the repeal of the illegal alien tuition benefits policy on the November, 2012 Maryland ballot.

The plaintiffs will continue to maintain that the Maryland DREAM Act cannot legally be subject to referendum. However, as MDPetitions.com argues in its court filings, Maryland voters are merely exercising their rights under Article XVI, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution, which unambiguously states:

"The people reserve to themselves power known as The Referendum, by petition to have submitted to the registered voters of the State, to approve or reject at the polls, any Act, or part of any Act of the General Assembly, if approved by the Governor, or, if passed by the General Assembly over the veto of the Governor."

The Maryland DREAM Act was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O'Malley on May 10, 2011. The law makes certain illegal aliens eligible to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions, including the University of Maryland. The MDPetitions.com petition drive collected 132,071 signatures, nearly twice the amount required by law to put the new benefit to voters in a referendum.

Illegal aliens and the activist group Casa de Maryland challenged the petition drive in court to give taxpayer dollar subsidies for college tuition for certain illegal aliens. On October 7, 2011, MDPetitions.com was granted permission to intervene in the lawsuit which seeks to deny voters an up-or-down vote on the Maryland DREAM Act (John Doe, et al., v. Maryland State Board of Elections, (No. 02-C-11-163050)). The MDPetitions.com group is represented by Judicial Watch. The chairman of MDPetitions.com is Maryland Assembly Delegate Neil Parrott of Washington County; Delegate Patrick McDonough of Baltimore and Harford Counties is its honorary chairman.

"Now that both sides agree that MDPetitions.com's petition signatures are sufficient and valid, illegal alien activists are running out of arguments to shield the Maryland DREAM Act from the voters," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "This political lawsuit is designed for one purpose: to deny Maryland voters a right to have their voices heard on the issue of taxpayer-funded perks for illegal aliens. We are confident the courts will uphold our client's petition drive and that democracy will not be subverted."

Neil Parrott stated, "While Casa de Maryland wanted to throw out literally tens of thousands of valid signatures in an effort to short circuit the democratic process in our state, they simply could not do it. The hard work of Marylanders from the Eastern Shore, to the Baltimore region, to Southern Maryland, to the mountains in Western Maryland paid off, resulting in over 130,000 signatures submitted and over 109,000 validated signatures. These strong numbers, almost twice the required validated signatures, proved to be an obstacle that the opposition could not be overcome. This victory shows that Marylanders do have a voice, and that by working together we can defeat legislation that just doesn't make sense."

"This is the People's Petition and the most historic referendum drive in the state of Maryland. We needed to collect 55,736 valid signatures of registered voters in less than 60 days to send SB 167 to referendum. The citizens submitted over 132,000, and the State Board of Elections validated over 108,000. Today is a great day for the people of Maryland, who are one step closer to voting on the referendum they have clearly asked for and are legally due," said Delegate McDonough.

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Jill Farrell