Maryland lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday empowering the state Attorney General to take legal action against the federal government on behalf of state residents without the permission of the governor or the General Assembly.
The Maryland Defense Act of 2017 will allow state Attorney General Brian Frosh to sue President Trump's administration and the rest of the federal government over access to affordable health care, civil liberties violations, the state's natural resources, travel and immigration restrictions and other concerns of state residents.
Democratic lawmakers announced the bill Jan. 31 as part of their response to uncertainties over the future of the Affordable Care Act, Trump's executive order barring travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and other potential federal actions they believe are unconstitutional. Democratic Sens. Jim Rosapepe, Joanne Benson and Victor Ramirez, who represent Prince George's County, are among the bill's sponsors.
Frosh asked Gov. Larry Hogan for permission to sue the Trump administration two weeks ago over the president's travel ban, but Frosh's office said he has not yet received a "yes" or "no" reply from the governor, The Washington Post reported. A Hogan spokeswoman told The Post the governor is waiting for Frosh to explain how the ban violates the Constitution and why Maryland should pursue legal action when other states have already done so.
Federal courts have temporarily suspended the travel ban as a result of state lawsuits.
We must allow AG @BrianFrosh to stand up to Trump’s Administration and protect Marylanders constitutional rights #DefendMD
— mdhousedems (@mdhousedems) February 15, 2017
The act passed 89-50 in the House of Delegates on Wednesday and 29-17 in the Senate on Friday. It will take effect without Hogan's signature.
Republicans have criticized the act as a partisan attack on Hogan and an attempt to tie him to Trump, The Washington Post reported. They have also taken issue with Democrats rushing the bill through the General Assembly. Republican senators walked off the Senate floor last week after their motion to delay the bill — which they say is often granted as a matter of courtesy — failed, The Post reported.
MD Democrats are ramming thru a anti-Trump resolution. 8 of us walked off the floor rather than partake in predetermined political theater
— Michael Hough (@senatorhough) February 9, 2017
The act was one of several bills Democrats have introduced in an effort to protect state citizens from what they consider harmful federal action. Other bills urge Hogan and the state's congressional delegation to resist efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and keep government agencies from taking certain actions for immigration enforcement.