Attorney general should be above politics

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006

Douglas W. Thiessen

The writer is counsel and policy director of the Scott Rolle for Attorney General campaign.

Some have said that the recent judicial decisions finding acts of the General Assembly unlawful illustrate that the assembly needs to do a better job of carefully examining the legality of proposed legislation before it.

After hearing that the U.S. District Court found the “Wal-Mart Bill“ to be in violation of federal law, and that the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court rejected early voting, our citizens are wondering why so many of the assembly’s acts are in violation of our basic laws.

Many forget, though, that Maryland has a top lawyer, the attorney general, who should be above partisanship and who should determine the legality of our laws before lawsuits reach our top courts. The attorney general is supposed to be the neutral arbiter among all the branches of our government, as well as an advocate for the people.

But time and time again, the current Office of the Attorney General has taken what appears to be political positions, and those positions have been repeatedly rejected by respected jurists from all political backgrounds.

The Court of Appeals’ recent decisions finding early voting unconstitutional and invalidating the Tom Perez candidacy for attorney general further show that the Office of the Attorney General needs a new voice that is above politics. Given the attorney general’s appeal of the “Wal-Mart Bill“ and these new adverse decisions, one thing is clear - the Office of the Attorney General needs a shake-up in order to address the legal priorities of all Marylanders and to give sound, objective legal advice to the state.

This year, Maryland has a unique opportunity for such a fresh start. The current attorney general is not seeking re-election, and Marylanders will be able to determine whether they will continue with the current politicized mindset in our state’s top legal office, or elect a new attorney general who will objectively enforce the law and place the law above politics.

Will the next attorney general play along with Annapolis politics and special interests, or will the next attorney general be a true advocate for the people of Maryland? The people of Maryland must decide.