2008 General Assembly
Key Figures on the Legislative Front Lines
Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr., a lively Republican from Cecil County on the Eastern Shore, is so passionate about constitutional procedure that he serves as the minority parliamentarian.
Smigiel, who describes himself as a civil libertarian, says the right to bear arms is one of the most important constitutional amendments.
"Once you've lost that right to defend yourself individually, then your other rights are at the whim of a government," he said. In the General Assembly, Smigiel is particularly outspoken on controversial social issues that should figure prominently in this session, including same-sex marriage and the death penalty.
"I'm trying to protect the sanctity of the legislature," he said. "It's our duty to do so. And in doing that, you run into a whole gamut of other issues, the death penalty, the same-sex marriage issue, all these social issues."
Smigiel is also a leading plaintiff in a GOP lawsuit that says the Democrat-controlled legislature violated constitutional guidelines in passing tax increases during the November special session.
Smigiel, 49, is a Baltimore native who immersed himself in Soviet foreign policy while in college and later trained as a trial lawyer. At 16, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and he still adheres to military regimen.
"I 'sir-and-ma'am' the person who gives you your burger in the drive-through," Smigiel joked.
-- Philip Rucker