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Impeachment Plan Stuffed

A legislative committee rejected last night an effort by Anne Arundel Del. Donald Dwyer Jr. to remove from the bench the Baltimore circuit judge who ruled in January that the state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

In a heated debate that occurred between 10:30 and 11:15 p.m., apparently timed to limit Dwyer's media exposure, members of the House Judiciary Committee called Dwyer's effort "ridiculous and frivolous" before rejecting it on a vote of 20 to 3.

Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) argued that Judge M. Brooke Murdock showed incompetence in disregarding the legislative record surrounding a 1973 law that defined marriage as being the union of a man and a woman. He said the judge's declaration that the law was discriminatory should be grounds for her removal. Had he succeeded in persuading the committee members to give his impeachment effort a hearing, it would have been the first in Maryland since the Civil War.

Democrat Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) led a series of speakers in a lengthy legal analysis of Dwyer's proposal. "I don't see there are even remotely any grounds for taking the action you suggest," Anderson said.

Even many of Dwyer's Republican colleagues called the proposal a dangerous idea. Only two-- Dels. Christopher B. Shank (Washington) and Tanya Thornton Shewell (Carroll) voted with him.

The committee's chairman, Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's) said he was relieved the matter was behind him. "I just don't believe that judges should be subject to harassment or intimidation, just because someone didn't like their opinion.

By  |  March 10, 2006; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Same-Sex Marriage  
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