Judicial Watch: MDPetition.com Asks Court to Dismiss Lawsuit Seeking to Deny Voters Opportunity to Vote on Maryland DREAM Act in 2012

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Jan 5, 2012) - Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today announced that its client, MDPetitions.com, has asked a Maryland Circuit Court to dismiss a lawsuit that would deny Maryland voters an opportunity to consider "tuition benefits" for illegal alien students in the 2012 elections (John Doe, et al., v. Maryland State Board of Elections, (No. 02-C-11-163050)).

According to MDPetition.com's legal brief, the illegal alien activist group Casa de Maryland and the other plaintiffs that filed the lawsuit are wrong as a matter of law and have not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they are entitled to relief from the court:

Although Plaintiffs move for summary judgment, conspicuously absent from their motion are any affidavits or other admissible evidence demonstrating that they are 'aggrieved' persons or registered Maryland voters or otherwise entitled to relief. Plaintiffs' motion must fail for this reason alone. In addition, Plaintiffs' motion must fail because Plaintiffs are wrong as a matter of law about whether SB 167 is subject to referendum. It clearly is.

Moreover, not only must Plaintiffs' motion fail, but the Amended complaint must be dismissed and/or summary judgment be entered against Plaintiffs because they have failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

SB 167, also known as the Maryland DREAM Act, was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O'Malley on May 10, 2011. The law enables certain illegal aliens to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions. MDPetitions.com collected 132,071 signatures, nearly twice the amount required by law, in support of a petition to put the SB 167 to voters in a referendum.

Two illegal aliens, several Maryland voters, and the activist group Casa de Maryland challenged the petition drive in court. 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 SB 167.

On December 5, 2011, Casa de Maryland and the other plaintiffs signed a Joint Stipulation stating they would no longer challenge the "sufficiency and number of the petition signatures" collected by MDPetitions.com. However, the plaintiffs have continued to maintain that the SB 167 cannot legally be subject to referendum.

MDPetitions.com argues in its court filing, that Maryland voters who signed the petition are 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 only limitation on this constitutional right is where the law in question "(1) makes an appropriation of public funds, and (2) is for the purpose of 'maintaining the State Government' or 'maintaining or aiding any public institution.'" The Court of Appeals has held that an act by the Maryland Assembly is an "appropriation" if its "primary object is to authorize from the state treasury of a certain sum of money for a specified public object or purpose to which sum is to be applied."

However, as Judicial Watch argues on behalf of MDPetitions.com, SB 167 is "completely devoid" of such an expenditure of funds. The law is "nothing more than a policy choice by the General Assembly that extends eligibility for reduced, in-state and in-county tuition to a new group of persons... This new policy choice does not authorize the expenditure of any public monies at all, much less a particular amount of public money, for a specific purpose."

MDPetitions.com 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.

"This lawsuit should be dismissed in its entirety. The plaintiffs are desperate to prevent Maryland voters from having a say on taxpayer-subsidized tuition for illegal aliens, but they have now run out of legal arguments. MDPetitions.com abided by the letter of the law and ran a highly successful petition campaign. It's now time to leave the issue of discounted tuition for illegal aliens to the voters," stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Indeed, Casa de Maryland has seemed to acknowledge that its lawsuit will fail and that voters will have the final word, as it recently announced plans to launch a $10 million fundraising campaign to convince voters that they shouldn't overturn the illegal alien tuition policy on Election Day."

Neil Parrott stated, "The voters of Maryland have spoken loudly and clearly that they want to be able to vote to decide whether to give their hard-earned money to subsidize college educations for illegal aliens. This lawsuit from illegal aliens and Casa de Maryland, attempting to deny Marylander's their constitutional right to referendum, should be dismissed so that the voters, not the courts, can decide."

"I have said from the beginning that this legal action by Casa de Maryland is bizarre," said Delegate McDonough. "The idea of illegal aliens suing Maryland citizens to prevent them from voting illustrates how much they disrespect citizenship.

"The Maryland DREAM Act, SB 167, is an anti-American bill that takes college educations away from our own citizens and violates federal law. Over 132,000 Marylanders signed this most historic petition to take the SB 167 to referendum, and the voters should decide Maryland's future.

"In-state college tuition rates are a finite resource and are designed for citizens, not those whose mere presence represents the violation of the rule of law."

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Jill Farrell