Written by Tom Fitton
JW VICTORY! Illegal Alien Tuition to Stay on Maryland Ballot
As many of you know, Judicial Watch has been locked in a key legal battle in Maryland over the issue of in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
Judicial Watch’s goal is simple: to allow voters in Maryland the opportunity to vote on a new policy passed by the state legislature in 2011 that allowed discounted tuition for illegal alien students in Maryland. Illegal immigration activists attempted to keep the issue off of the ballot by filing a lawsuit after our client, MDPetitions.com, collected more than enough signatures to put the issue to a vote this coming November.
And on February 17, 2012, Judicial Watch and MDPetitions.com secured a major victory when the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County ruled in our favor. The court’s decision was simple and straightforward:
The sole issue before the court is whether the Maryland Dream Act is a law actually making an appropriation for maintaining the State Government and thus not subject to referendum.…
…Having reviewed all of the evidence, the Court finds that the Maryland Dream Act is not a law making any appropriation, but rather an act of general legislation with a primary goal of changing eligibility requirements for students to receive in-state tuition. The Maryland Dream Act is therefore subject to referendum on the November 2012 general election ballot.
Now the voters of Maryland will have the opportunity to put a stop to this wasteful, unlawful illegal alien sanctuary policy. Other states with similar illegal alien sanctuary policies will face additional pressure to abolish them.
Here’s the statement I offered to the press following the court’s decision:
This is a tremendous victory for anyone concerned about using tax dollars to subsidize the education of illegal alien lawbreakers. We are thrilled that the voters of Maryland will have the final say on the Maryland Dream Act.
Illegal alien activists failed in their attempt use the courts to push their unpopular and radical agenda. American citizens are fed up with taxpayer-funded policies to benefit illegal aliens. We expect that the vote in November will put a stop to this effort to help illegal aliens at the expense of law-abiding Americans and residents.
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.
By way of review, the Maryland Dream Act was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on May 10, 2011. The law creates a new taxpayer-subsidized tuition policy — the ability to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions — for certain eligible illegal aliens. MDPetitions.com 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 in order to protect taxpayer dollar subsidies for the college tuition for certain illegal aliens. At first they challenged the petitions themselves. When they realized that would not work, they resorted to the thin argument that the issue could not be subject to referendum. So much for that.
While Judicial Watch is very pleased with the court’s ruling, this legal battle may not be over yet. “Together with our attorneys, we are still reviewing today's decision, but we are likely to appeal,” Kim Propeack, director of political action at Casa de Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun following the court’s ruling. As Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes told a local Maryland newspaper, we think that success on appeal is unlikely, “Hands down, it’s not an appropriation, and we think the [Circuit] Court got it right.”
MdPetitions.com's chairman, Delegate Parrott, is also confident: “The lower court ruling sets a huge precedent…It’s a hurdle that’s too high to overcome…The other side simply doesn’t have a good case,” Delegate Parrott told MarylandReporter.com.
Regarding the battle for the hearts and minds of Maryland voters, that is already underway. Casa de Maryland 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.
We think and hope voters will reject the illegal alien advocate’s articles and vote the in-state tuition policy down in November.
And we’re proud to have been instrumental in protecting their sovereign right do so!
In about a month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Obamacare lawsuit, and we still do not have all of the answers regarding the continuing questions about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s role in crafting the Obamacare defense while she was serving as Obama’s Solicitor General.
And that’s why Judicial Watch keeps fighting to get to the truth.
This week we filed a lawsuit against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking more Kagan/Obamacare records. Previous documents uncovered by Judicial Watch have raised concerns about whether Justice Kagan should recuse herself from considering the Obamacare litigation when it goes before the High Court next month.
What we’re after now is any information about Obamacare meetings and phone calls involving then-Solicitor General Kagan or her top deputies.
And so, pursuant to our original Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to the DOJ’s Office of Information Policy and the Office of Solicitor General on December 7, 2011, we’re looking for the following records:
All calendars, schedules, phone logs and agenda for each of the following individuals: (1) Elena Kagan; (2) Neal Katyal; (3) Edwin Kneedler; (4) Malcolm Stewart; and (5) Michael Dreeben.
(Neal Katyal, Edwin Kneedler, Malcolm Stewart and Michael Dreeben all served as Deputy Solicitors General under Kagan. The time frame for our request is September 1, 2009, through August 31, 2010.)
Per usual, we had to resort to a lawsuit because the DOJ continues to drag its feet. The DOJ was required by law to respond to the FOIA request by January 25, 2012. However, to date, the Obama administration has neither released any records, nor provided an explanation as to why records should be withheld, nor given a date when a response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request will be forthcoming.The “should she or shouldn’t she” debate over Kagan’s recusal has gained steam because there appears to be an issue between what Kagan has said regarding her role in Obamacare discussions and what the documentary record shows.
Justice Kagan has said that she was not “substantially” involved in the DOJ discussions regarding Obamacare’s constitutional or litigation issues. The White House, despite repeated inquiries, has refused to confirm to Judicial Watch that Justice Kagan was “walled off” from Obamacare defense discussions while at the DOJ.
However, emails previously obtained by Judicial Watch suggest Kagan and her Solicitor General’s office participated in key discussions pertaining to the legal defense of Obamacare. For example, according to a January 18, 2012, email from former Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal to Brian Hauck, Senior Counsel to Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, Kagan wanted her office to defend Obamacare from the very beginning:
Subject: Re: Health Care Defense:
Brian, Elena would definitely like OSG [Office of Solicitor General] to be involved in this set of issues…we will bring in Elena as needed. [The “set of issues” refers to another email calling for assembling a group to figure out “how to defend against the…health care proposals that are pending.”]
Another set of documents we forced out show then-Solicitor General Kagan commenting excitedly on the passage of Obamacare. The records include the following message from Kagan in a March 21, 2010, email to then-Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Laurence Tribe: “I hear they have the votes Larry!! Simply amazing…” Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to a FOIA lawsuit filed on February 24, 2011. This lawsuit had been consolidated with a similar FOIA lawsuit first filed against the DOJ by the Media Research Center.
Responding to inquiries from Congress for records detailing Justice Kagan’s role in Obamacare discussions, Attorney General Eric Holder said in December 2011 that he has “separation of powers concerns” about releasing them, according to Politico.
Translation: Eric Holder intends to run out the clock in violation of the law.
But this is no time for the Obama administration to stonewall and obfuscate. And we hope the court will force the Obama administration to respond to our request in a manner consistent with federal law. The American people deserve to know how deeply involved Elena Kagan and her top deputies were in shaping the Obama administration’s legal defense of Obamacare. The integrity of the courts requires a full airing of those facts before Justice Kagan participates in the historic Obamacare constitutional challenges.
By the way, as I detailed to you last week, on February 13, 2012, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, specifically the “individual mandate,” so we’re involved in this critical debate on a number of fronts.
As I say, the Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for the Obamacare case on March 26, 27, and 28, 2012, so time is of the essence.
Judicial Watch’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) continues to move forward.
As you may recall, JW represents Winsome Packer, a female federal employee who alleges that she was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances,” “unwelcome touching” and retaliation from Rep. Hastings when she worked for the congressman at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the Helsinki Commission).
On February 14, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that pursuant to the Congressional Accountability Act the case will proceed against the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will now serve as the sole defendant in the lawsuit. Hastings and his co-defendant Douglas Turner are no longer personally in the lawsuit but their behavior will remain a central focus of the lawsuit.
Despite the spin from Hastings, this court ruling does not exonerate the Florida Congressman. Far from it. This is simply a procedural decision as to how our lawsuit will go forward. And we’re confident that when the court weighs the considerable evidence against Hastings in this case, Winsome Packer will get the justice she deserves.
Remember, the Office of Congressional Ethics recently determined that there is good reason to believe that Congressman Hastings violated Ms. Packer’s civil rights. Specifically, on October 11, 2011, the Office of Congressional Ethics referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee and released a report concluding, “[T]here is probable cause to believe that Representative Hastings violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law as a result of his interactions with [Ms. Packer].” And the House Ethics Committee then voted to extend its probe.
So now, with the court’s ruling, there is an ongoing battle related to the charges against Hastings on two fronts – in Congress and in the courts. Here’s a squib from the statement I offered to the press following the District Court ruling:
Rep. Hastings’ attacks against Winsome Packer are disgraceful, unlawful and beneath the office he holds.
Rep. Hastings’ aggressive denials and persistent attacks against Ms. Packer, which continue to this day, bring to mind his corrupt behavior that resulted in his impeachment and removal from the federal bench.
We look forward to giving Winsome Packer her day in court and to prosecuting this case. Already, Hastings appears to be telling one version of events to the court and a different story to House ethics investigators.
Of course Ms. Packer’s story regarding the disturbing allegations against Hastings hasn’t changed one iota.
Ms. Packer alleges that Rep. Hastings subjected her to unwelcome sexual advances and touching over a two-year period when she worked for the Helsinki Commission. She further alleges that Rep. Hastings, with the assistance of Helsinki Commission Staff Director Fred Turner, retaliated against her when she rebuffed the congressman’s advances.
(You can read the whole story here. Just be warned that some of the descriptions of Hastings’ behavior are quite graphic.)
Now our able Judicial Watch attorneys will take discovery, which could include taking testimony from Rep. Hastings directly.
Until next week
Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.
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