Monday, September 08, 2008

Appeals Court Hears Referendum Arguments

Some of us went to Annapolis this morning to watch the hearing in the state Court of Appeals about whether a referendum challenging the gender identity law should be put before the voters in November. The hearing was actually quite short, about an hour and a half between the first statements and the last. First, the seven-judge panel listened to Jonathan Shurberg argue for the petitioners, explaining why the court should stop the referendum. He presented three points:
  • When inactive voters are added to active ones to derive the total number of registered voters, the referendum petitions do not have five percent of registered voters as required by law
  • A ten-day deadline is set by law for filing a complaint, but it is not clear whether that part of the law is applicable to this situation at all
  • There are problems interpreting the law that establishes the date that a determination has been made by the Board of Elections, which defines, in this case, when important deadlines occur

The big mess is this. The Citizens for a Responsible Whatever were told by the county Board of Elections that they needed 25,001 signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot to relegalize discrimination on the basis of gender identity in Montgomery County. They got that many and a few extra, submitted them on time, and did their victory dance. Opponents of the referendum went through the signatures, found a lot of problems, and sued the Board for not correctly verifying petition signatures. In the process of arguing back and forth in court, it came out that the Board of Elections had given the CRW the wrong number, and now they didn't have enough. The Board had counted only active voters, ignoring the considerable number of voters who are registered but have not voted in a general election recently. Today, even the Board's attorney, Kevin Karpinski, said, "The sponsors didn't get enough signatures." But -- the Circuit Court judge said that the complaint had been filed too late, and so it didn't matter that there weren't enough signatures.

So the court might need to require the Board to enforce the law, if they rule that because the CRW failed to produce 27,615 valid signatures -- the actual target number based on all registered voters -- the referendum should not be on the ballot. The second argument is about whether a deadline is appropriate for a situation like this where a mistake has been made and the public has no reasonable way of knowing. You do have to trust that a government agency knows what they're doing, Shurberg argued, you don't double-check all the numbers they give you. Besides, he said, he had repeatedly requested explanation from the Board at an early date about how the number was derived, and got "I'll get back to you" -- so even if you tried to find out, you couldn't. Shurberg told the court it wasn't until June 11th that Karpinski admitted in court that only active voters were included in the denominator, and that there were 52,000 inactive voters. The Board of Elections screwed up, and once the error was discovered it was too late to complain about it -- what sense does that make?

And finally, there was complicated legal argument about exactly when the determination was made that enough signatures had been collected -- was it when the Board notified that CRW on February 20th that they had enough valid signatures in the first batch? That's what the Circuit Court judge said, and that's how the Board of Elections likes it. At that time, one person was notified, Ruth Jacobs of the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever, and the public had no way of knowing that the timer had started ticking on a ten-day deadline. Or was the determination made on March 6th, when the Board sent the County Executive a formal letter announcing that a sufficient number of signatures had been verified? If that was the case, the March 14th complain was filed in time. But then, to make it worse, the question of whether the calculations included inactive voters didn't come up until a June hearing, which would have been after any ten-day deadline but was considered by the first judge to be just another theory that could be included with the other complaints.

Several of the judges asked the Board's lawyer why the Board didn't post their determination on a web site where everybody could see it. He said that in hindsight, a notice on a web site sounds like a good idea.

The way this works is that the lawyer for the petitioners starts talking, and after a few minutes he gets interrupted by a judge. He starts to answer them and another judge asks him something, and so on, it's pretty wild, sometimes the judges are interrupting each other. Today they had a lot of good questions. Most of them seemed to understand that there needed to be a way for the Board to notify the public when it had made a decision. They had a lot of questions that worked on that problem from different sides. After the first lawyer has bantered with the court for a while, the other lawyer stands up and the routine repeats -- he talks, they interrupt. Finally, the first lawyer gets the final word, interrupted, as before, by judges. It's a fascinating process to watch, as one lawyer tries to stay on track while he's being cut off by seven different people, each one cogitating on his or her own track. As we have seen in previous hearings, both lawyers were knowledgeable, articulate, and fast on their feet.

Talk on the street is that a ruling could come as soon as tomorrow morning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have admitted here that lots of the teach the facts members on our email list.

And the fact that the board had certified the signatures was plastered on our website, and released on a press relase, and all over the news media, and sent to our distribution list which you have acknowledge folks are subscribed to the Sat following the certification which was on Thursday night (I believe, would have to go check).

You didn't know.


September 08, 2008 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a referendum on the November ballot to relegalize discrimination on the basis of gender identity in Montgomery County"

That's not and never has been illegal. The Council passed a law but it didn't take effect because a number of citizens decided we needed to ascertain whether Montgomery County voters wanted to exercise their right to veto the law.

Laws don't become laws until the veto period ends.

Brush up on the political science.

And why would these judges decide to side with TTF? Truth is, letting the referendum go forward harms no one's rights. It simply allows a vote to take place on an issue that is controversial, which is exactly when we need to ascertain what the public thinks.

5% is an arbitrary number. it is just an attempt to define when an issue needs to be reviewed by the public. If it isn't clear what the rule is, the no-harm default position is to allow the vote.

"Some of us went to Annapolis this morning to watch the hearing in the state Court of Appeals"

You kids seriously need a hobby.

September 08, 2008 6:09 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

You have admitted here that lots of the teach the facts members on our email list.
Never mind that this sentence lacks a verb, we know that your members have joined our email group, too. I don't get your stuff but it gets forwarded to me frequently, I don't believe there is any "admission" involved there. You also seem to mistakenly think that TTF has something to do with the lawsuit -- we don't. We have an interest in undermining bigotry in our county, but we are not part of any legal action. We watch what's going on and report it here to the public. Further, the shower-nuts' web site and newsletter may have announced the certification, but that does not constitute official notice to the public by any means. It turns out, some of the things they have said in the past have been false -- like, the whole thing about locker-rooms. There needs to be a legal process for notifying the public of a determination, it shouldn't come from some nutty group's emails and web site.

And then, the other Anon (I presume these are two people): And why would these judges decide to side with TTF?
They might side with us because we're good-looking, funny, smart, I don't know exactly why they would side with us but there could be a reason. Maybe we're really really nice people, and they would like us, I don't know. But let me tell you something, Anon -- oh, and thanks for the political science lesson -- the judges probably would only decide to side with us if we were parties to a lawsuit, and we aren't. I believe they will weigh the evidence and the strength of the arguments presented by a group of registered voters on one hand and the Board of Elections on the other, and come to some kind of decision. TTF won't be involved, except to go sit and watch the arguments.


September 08, 2008 7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Upon hearing that the McCain/Palin ticket now leads the Presidential race, investors sent the stock market soaring today.

September 08, 2008 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In July, I was on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival on the media and the 2008 presidential campaign. There was a bit of happy talk about Sen. Barack Obama and the campaign he'd run thus far, which rankled a few folks under the tent at the Aspen Meadows Resort. One asked if there was anything nice any of us could say about the Republican nominee for president. I leaned over to the moderator and said, "I'll take that one."

For those of you thirsty for some good news about John McCain, I said, here you go. Citing a May Washington Post-ABC News poll, I pointed out that 82 percent of respondents felt the nation was going in the wrong direction. I noted that the conventional wisdom among Democrats and Republicans alike, both inside and outside the Washington Beltway, was that the Democrats would expand their majorities in the House and the Senate. And I said that voters overwhelmingly favored Democrats over the GOP when asked who they trusted to address the war in Iraq, the economy and a whole host of other issues. Then came the good news for McCain: despite this tidal wave of bad news for Republicans, he was in a statistical dead-heat with Obama. I warned the Obama supporters to pay attention to this, especially since the senator from Illinois lost nine of the final 14 contests, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, and was having a hard time winning over supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Two months later, the situation is a tad more dire. Three polls out today spell trouble for Team Obama. While a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll has Obama and McCain tied at 48 percent, a USA Today/Gallup survey has McCain besting Obama 50-46 among registered voters. And a Washington Post/ABC News poll shows McCain leading among white women, 53-41.

This could be the traditional convention bounce for McCain. After all, these polls were done over the weekend, just after the Republican convention disbanded in St. Paul. Or it could be that McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate was the spark that the conservative base of the party, and white women, needed to finally show McCain some love. Or these numbers could represent growing resistance to Obama. Whatever the reason, Obama better figure out a way to turn those ugly numbers around lest he be the losing Democrat in a year of expected gains.

September 08, 2008 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Washington Post acknowledges an achievement of Sarah Palin's. Has Obama got anything in his portfolio like this?:

"PEOPLE ARE still buzzing about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's acceptance speech. But while her style has been minutely analyzed, very little commentary has focused on one of the few substantive claims she made about her brief tenure as governor of Alaska: that she "fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history . . . a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence." Is Ms. Palin right about the importance of the pipeline and her role in moving it forward?

Ms. Palin is indeed correct about the need to tap the 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under Alaska's North Slope, the same region whose oil made the state wealthy but which has begun to run dry. Natural gas demand is growing rapidly in North America, and low-carbon natural gas is better for the environment than coal or petroleum. This means that the outlook for gas prices is relatively bullish, making the economics of an Alaska pipeline more favorable than ever before. Yet for decades the idea has been deadlocked by federal and state politics -- and unless the United States can install a pipeline to transport Alaska's gas soon, companies may commit to foreign sources of liquefied natural gas, thus locking in long-term dependency on imports.

Congress passed legislation to expedite a pipeline in 2004. Ms. Palin's predecessor as governor, Republican Frank H. Murkowski, attempted to negotiate a deal with the three oil companies that control the North Slope gas, Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips. His plan would have awarded the companies a long-term tax freeze in return for relatively weak commitments to actually build the pipeline. But even though Vice President Cheney and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) lobbied hard for Mr. Murkowski's approach, Alaska's public and legislature balked, viewing the proposal as stacked in favor of the Big Three oil companies. Ms. Palin rode criticism of Mr. Murkowski's deal to victory over him in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary and then to the governor's office later that year. She reversed Mr. Murkowski's strategy, asking the legislature to pass a law setting criteria for a deal, then throwing the project open to companies other than the Big Three. The result was a commitment by an experienced pipeline company, TransCanada, to build the project, which may take 10 years, in return for $500 million in state seed money derived from Alaska's recent oil windfall.

The oil companies still control the gas. So, if TransCanada actually gets all the necessary permits, assembles financing and builds the pipeline, the Big Three will have to be persuaded, years from now, to ship their gas through it on reasonable terms. Meanwhile, BP and Conoco Phillips have announced plans to build a pipeline of their own without the state's backing -- a sign that the political and economic wrangling over this immense and risky project is far from over. But it is also a sign that Ms. Palin's outflanking of the oil companies injected some competition and urgency into a process that was previously stalled. Perhaps her Democratic opponent for the governorship in 2006, who campaigned on similar ideas, would have achieved these results. Nevertheless, Ms. Palin actually did."

September 08, 2008 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


tonight's rolling Gallup has increased McCain's lead from last night's three points to five points

at this rate, this will be a bigger landslide than 1972

of course, that was the last time the Dems dared to nominate someone so liberal

when will they ever learn?

when will they ever learn?

September 08, 2008 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reports out tonight that Wayne Besen is saying that Palin better say you can't pray away your gay-

or else!

That oughta scare the heck outta her!

September 08, 2008 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media bias continues. Washington Post this morning finally reports, after two days, that the presidential race has shifted. In reporting that McCain now leads by two points among likley voters, however, the headline is "McCain Closes Gap with Obama." How about "McCain Takes Lead Among Likely Voters"?

That would have been more accurate.

The interesting part, though, is the woman's vote. TTF blowhard, preya of canada, has said here that the selection of Sarah Palin has backfired on McCain. According to the Post's polling, Obama led among white women by eight points before McCain selected his VP and now McCain leads by 12 among this group.

Wow! That's a 20 point swing!!

Rather than backfire, the Palin pick was frontfire on the Dems and it scored a direct hit.

September 09, 2008 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to the "Anonymous Troll Blog Site"! This individual now controls this discussion site. "Vigilence" no longer exists! Long live liberalism!! :-(

September 09, 2008 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trolls of the world unite!

September 09, 2008 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would the judges side with TTF?

Maybe it is because they believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. All men are created equal. Ever think of that?

All these hate-mongering anti-gay activist judges donĀ“t take law into consideration, they only use bigotry as their form of direction.

I am pretty sure that would be a pincipal reason.

September 09, 2008 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


(Annapolis, September 9, 2008) - Today, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that an inadequate referendum petition to block a unanimously enacted transgender protection law may not go on the ballot for the November general election, and the law must be allowed to go into effect. The high court reversed the decision of a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, who had previously ruled that the referendum effort to overturn the law should be allowed on the November ballot, despite the acknowledgement that the petition did not carry the legally required number of signatures. Today's ruling by the high court is the final word on the fate of the referendum.


September 09, 2008 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look! The judges believe in the Law!

This is great news. Truth, once again, has won.

September 09, 2008 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG...what will those "activist" judges do next? Perhaps continue to knock down efforts to deny minority members of our communities
their basic human and civil rights?
Or uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land?
Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. Anonymous...once again your prognostications have fallen very short of the mark. You are totally out of touch with the ethos and morality of the vast majority of citizens in Montgomery County. Perhaps you might consider moving to Alaska?
American Citizen

September 09, 2008 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just went to the Showernut website and they had photos of the county fair - "bubbles attracted many families to our booth". they also had sheep( but here I refer to the actual animal- not the showernut followers). I was looking for their take on this. Maybe they can all pack up now and move to Idaho or Alaska

September 09, 2008 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You are totally out of touch with the ethos and morality of the vast majority of citizens in Montgomery County."

Actually, this whole episode has made it quite clear who fears "the vast majority of citizens in Montgomery County".

Those who fought to deny the right of citizens to vote on this issue.

You guys knew who would win the vote and that the courtroom was your only shot.

September 09, 2008 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We knew we'd win the vote because only the handful of shower nuts would ever vote IN FAVOR OF DISCRIMINATION here in Montgomery County.

September 09, 2008 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then, why not make that clear by putting it to a vote?

That would shut those "bigots" up.

Face it, your fears, in this case, are based on reality.

You know quite well the citizens of MC would approve that referendum with gusto!

It's the only reasonable explanation for your strident opposition.

September 09, 2008 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now thinking about the thousands and thousands of dollars that will be put to better use than having to fight the spurious, ignorant, and bigoted claims of the wing-nut, reactionary, and hateful CRGers. That, my dear Troll, is why we celebrate the sane court decision, not your distorted and deluded snarky remark: "You know quite well the citizens of MC would approve that referendum with gusto!
It's the only reasonable explanation for your strident opposition."
You are in obvious need of psychiatric assistance....or maybe better yet, you need to pray away your mental illness, perhaps with a little help from that infamous church in Wassila, Alaska.

September 09, 2008 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason you would have to spend "thousands and thousands of dollars" is because TTF is wrong.

The voters don't agree with them.

A major effort would have to be made to convince them.

Deception of the nature TTF participates in is expensive.

September 09, 2008 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous Troll:
You have absolutely not one shred of evidence, not one, that the voters of Montgomery County would vote to deny fellow citizens their rights and the protection of the law. ("The voters don't agree with them. A major effort would have to be made to convince them."..."You know quite well the citizens of MC would approve that referendum with gusto!")

All you can rely on to make such asinine statements is your own parochial analysis of the few voters in your own clique, laughably called "Citizens for Responsible Government" (sic.) - hardly evidence of any mass movement by the majority of voters in M.C. who have, repeatedly - over and over and over - soundly rejected your hateful and disgraceful view of people who happen, even dare, to be different from you and your narrow world.

Just because you apparently have thousands of dollars supplied by outside wacko, fundamentalist, so-called "Christian" groups to squander on your disgraceful campaign is no evidence that you have any support for your weird world-view in Montgomery County.
Give it LOST - again!

September 09, 2008 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You have absolutely not one shred of evidence, not one, that the voters of Montgomery County would vote to deny fellow citizens their rights and the protection of the law."

I never said they would. Transgenders, however, don't have more rights than anyone else. They receive the same protection as everyone else. Always have in Montgomery County.

No one, except gays and trangenders, has the right to protection from social ostracism based on their feelings and behavior. If you want to be free, you have to accept that some people might not like what you do with your freedom.

It's life.

Don't miss out on it.

As for what proof I have about how the voters would have voted were they not denied their rights by activist judges, the grand efforts of lunatic fringe groups like TTF and EM speak as loud as anything. If they were convinced they wouldn't win without some vigorous and expensive campaign, it's obvious they knew the voters would reject the gay agenda.


September 09, 2008 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one, except gays and trangenders, has the right to protection from social ostracism based on their feelings and behavior.

That is absolutely false. First, we don't have "social ostracism" laws, we have anti-discrimination laws. Second, religion is based on feelings and leads to behaviors.

Religious people are granted protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and some basic services, even adherents who choose to dress in their own religious costume whether a burqua, yarmulke, habit, etc. And some religious behaviors are exempted from laws other people must follow. For example, cops won't arrest a member of the clergy for offering wine to underage teens as a part of a religious ceremony. And don't get me started on the special exemptions from laws the rest of us operate under for Christian Scientists. Those laws are anything but pro-special needs kids.

Nope sorry Anon, adherents of religion are another group that has, as you say, "the right to protection from social ostracism based on their feelings and behavior."

denied their rights by activist judges

Funny, when the CRC won against the Board of Ed, and when the Court of Appeals ruled against civil marriage, the Anonymi thought the judges were reasonable, even wise. Now that their spawn the CRG has lost in 2008, suddenly they're back to lamenting "activist judges."

The Gazette reported Maryland CRG planned to meet Tuesday to discuss its next steps. That could include a lawsuit against the county elections board, Smith said.
"I think we would have to wait and see," Jacobs said of a lawsuit.

So did y'all decide to look for an activist judge?

September 10, 2008 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Religion has protection but is restricted. For example, there aren't curriculums in schools that push a religious agenda the way there are curriculums that push the gay agenda.

Should we treat homosexuality like religion?

Let us know your certain-to-be inane thoughts on the subject.

September 10, 2008 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So did y'all decide to look for an activist judge?"

No, we're looking for one that supports democracy.

TTF and their unseemly band of buddies have decided there are issues that are beyond democracy.

Like, whether you have to hang out with guys who wear dresses.

September 10, 2008 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr/Mrs./Ms./Dr. Anonymous:
Every time you spout off in here you are merely reinforcing what we all already know about you: you are a LOSER!

September 10, 2008 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there aren't curriculums [sic] in schools that push a religious agenda

Do you ever come out from under the cover of your isolation cell to see things as they are in the real world?

There are indeed Bible classes taught in public schools all over America.

Just like MCPS's 90 minutes of sex ed that cover "Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality," they are optional, not required.

Is parental permission required for Bible classes like it is for MCPS sex ed?

September 10, 2008 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are indeed Bible classes taught in public schools all over America."

These are objective, CTBS. They don't make a value judgment but merely examine the historical and cultural impact. They don't advance religion except in the sense that the facts tend to.

The MCPS curriculum, however, slants and selects facts in order to promote the view that homosexuality is normal.

September 10, 2008 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homosexuality is normal.

Who says homosexuality is normal? Every major medical and mental health professional organization consisting of hundreds of thousands of medical professionals. The few folks at NARTH disagree.

Get over yourself, Anonhole. You and NARTH are the outliers.

September 10, 2008 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's normality is a value judgment.

But I like your idea that homosexuality should have to follow the same rules as religious belief.

That would be preferable to the current situation.

September 10, 2008 2:45 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

It's normality is a value judgment.

No it's not. It's statistically normal. A certain percentage of the population is going to be homosexual, regardless of place or time, in our species and hundreds of others. Just happens, get over it.


September 10, 2008 3:10 PM  

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