Md. lawmakers vote no grounds to impeach AG
UPDATE: The Maryland House of Delegates' Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon ended a Republican lawmaker's attempt to impeach Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) for directing Maryland agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
In a series of votes, the committee first rejected an attempt by Del. Don H. Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) to send the matter back to the full House. It then voted on whether there was sufficient evidence to go forward with an impeachment. One Republican, Del. Susan K. McComas (R-Harford), sided with Democrats in saying that there were not grounds for the charges. A third vote along party lines effectively ended the spectacle, which stopped and started after Dwyer began the hearing by telling reporters it was "a kangaroo court of sorts."
Earlier in the day, Dwyer had sought to have the entire House vote on whether to forward articles of impeachment to the Senate. House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said it was first appropriate to have the issue vetted by the Judiciary Committee. Democrats also later contended that Dwyer had failed to make the proper procedural motions to have the House take up the matter, even as he repeatedly yelled that Busch's decision to send the matter to committee usurped the power of the House.
ORIGINAL POST: Over raucous objections from Maryland Republicans, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D) sidestepped an attempt Wednesday by Del. Don H. Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) to call a vote on whether to impeach Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) for directing Maryland agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Despite a Maryland State Trooper stationed outside the chamber in tactical gear and Dwyer's vows to not "go down without a fight," the episode ended without any of the physical confrontation to which Dwyer had previously alluded, and that had attracted at least six television news crews and more than two dozen reporters to the chamber.
At the episode's apex, Dwyer yelled that Busch was out of order. "This is wrong, this is wrong, Mr. Speaker, and I object." Busch then banged his gavel and dispensed with the ultimatum with a procedural decision to refer the matter to the chamber's Judiciary Committee.
The move, which appeared to set a precedent and that Republicans maintained usurped the authority of House members to vote up or down on articles of impeachment, all but assured the demise of the impeachment attempt.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario (D-Prince George's) scheduled a hearing on Dwyer's resolution for 3 p.m. But a majority of the committee members support legalizing same-sex marriage, and members in recent months have repeatedly voted down attempts to preclude Maryland from recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.
Some of the members also stood up during Wednesday's debate to say they support the attorney general's opinion that he cannot be impeached without a conviction by a court of law.
On the floor, the ordeal ended on an anticlimactic 39 to 101 vote that in effect supported Busch's decision to move the impeachment charges off the floor and into committee.
Aaron C. Davis
March 31, 2010; 5:50 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis
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