Maryland's High Court Upholds DREAM Act Referendum

Article publisher: 
FAIR - Federation for american Immigration Reform
Article date: 
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Article category: 
National Issues
Article Body: 

In a brief order handed down Wednesday, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a November referendum that could overturn the Maryland DREAM Act. (See Maryland Court of Appeals Order No. 131, June 13, 2012; see also Washington Post, June 13, 2012)

The DREAM Act — which allows illegal aliens who attended three years of high school in Maryland to receive in-state tuition at Maryland colleges and universities — was signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley last year. (SB 167)

Although Maryland residents subsequently obtained enough signatures for a referendum on this November's ballot to reverse the law, the open borders lobby, spearheaded by CASA de Maryland, quickly tied the referendum up in legal proceedings. (FAIR Legislative Update, June 6, 2011)

Specifically, the open borders lobby attempted to stop the referendum from appearing on the ballot by arguing that the referendum process could not be applied to the DREAM Act because the legislation is a spending bill. Arguing in the Court of Appeals just one day before it issued its order, Joseph E. Sandler, a lawyer for CASA de Maryland, argued the DREAM Act is a spending bill because it would lead to the governor directing more funds in future budgets toward education to accommodate illegal aliens seeking in-state tuition under the Act. Therefore, Casa argued, the DREAM Act is exempt from referendum under the Maryland Constitution. (See Maryland Court of Appeals Oral Argument No. 131, June 12, 2012; see also Maryland Constitution at Art. XVI § 2)

Defending the referendum, Matthew J. Fader, an assistant attorney general for the State of Maryland, countered that the Act does not direct the governor to set aside funds in his budget. (Id.) Rather, Fader argued, the legislation merely provides who is entitled to in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. While that could lead to the governor's eventual allocation of additional funds, he conceded, Fader maintained that the bill does not affirmatively require the governor to appropriate money. (Id.)

Without providing any reasons for its decision upholding the referendum, the Court stated it would issue a future opinion outlining its rationale. Maryland voters will now vote on whether to maintain or strike the DREAM Act from state law in November. (See Maryland Court of Appeals Order No. 131, June 13, 2012) Stay tuned to FAIR for details once the opinion is handed down...