Thursday, July 24, 2008

Court Sides with Shower Nuts (Updated)

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenburg ruled today that the anti-transgender ballot referendum could go forward. But his opinion was based on one narrow issue: the timeliness of the challenge. Equality Maryland is vowing to appeal.

Judge Greenburg rejected an argument from Equality Maryland that the voter's name be entered on a petition exactly as it appears on the voter registration rolls. I agree with that reasoning as few voters carry their registration cards and petition gatherers should not be expected to carry hundreds of thousands of voter registration records with them. But he also ruled that the Board of Elections applied the wrong standard for calculating the petition threshold necessary to trigger a referendum. And he said that the Board had a greater responsiblity for verifying signatures than acting as "something more than that of a bean-counter."

So if the judge believed that the Board applied the wrong standard for gathering a sufficient number of names for the petition and that the Board did not perform due diligence on the signatures, then why should he let a technical issue like timeliness rescue an otherwise faulty petition? After all, this ruling allows the Board to make future mistakes on petition thresholds and encourages future ballot groups to slip in dicey signatures. If the signatures are suspect and the wrong standard for certifying them is applied, why allow the referendum to stand under any circumstance?

One way or another, Montgomery County voters will not support discrimination. Even the shower nuts sensed that when they objected to the wording approved by the County Council for the ballot. But if Judge Greenburg's decision is upheld, the will of the voters will only be expressed after great sums of money - and great amounts of vitriol - are expended.

Update: Jim Kennedy at Teach the Facts has more details on the ruling.

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