The Orphans’ Court, a misnomer, is a three-judge panel in each of the state’s localities that adjudicates wills and estates. The courts’ judges (except in Baltimore City) are not required to be lawyers. That is no longer wise in large jurisdictions, where complex disputes over large estates can divide families and involve large sums. We recommend a vote for the constitutional amendment, which would require the courts’ judges in Prince George’s (Question 1) and Baltimore (Question 2) counties to be members of the Maryland bar.
Question 3: Removing elected officials
This constitutional amendment would ensure that crooked elected officials would be suspended from office when found guilty of a crime and immediately removed if they plead guilty or no contest. That would be an improvement on the status quo, which has allowed some officials, including former Prince George’s County Council member Leslie Johnson, to continue exercising power even after admitting guilt. We recommend a vote for the constitutional amendment.
Question 4: Maryland Dream Act
The question here is whether to ratify a state law that would enable some undocumented students — brought into this country as young children and educated at Maryland high schools — to continue their education by making them eligible for in-state tuition rates at state universities. The law makes abundant sense: Why deny opportunities to ambitious and talented students who have grown up in Maryland?
As drafted, it would apply only to youngsters whose families have paid state income tax; who have applied for green cards to remain in the country legally; who have no criminal records; and who first graduate from a Maryland community college. For the purpose of admission to state universities, they would compete with out-of-state students, so as not to displace any native-born Marylanders. We recommend a vote for the law.
Question 5: Congressional redistricting
Thanks to Gov. Martin O’Malley and his fellow Democrats in Annapolis, Maryland’s eight congressional districts now qualify as the most outrageously gerrymandered among the 50 states, as analyzed by a nonpartisan geospatial firm. Several districts, including the 3rd and the 6th, dice and splice counties, communities and neighborhoods, all in service to the Democrats’ goal of adding a seventh seat to the six they already control.
The map as currently configured allows politicians to choose their voters, rather than the other way around; it is anti-democratic in the extreme. We recommend a vote against the law; that would force Mr. O’Malley and lawmakers back to the drawing board.
Question 6: Same-sex marriage