Meyer M. Emanuel Jr., 68, a former Maryland legislator who served 15 years in the state Senate and House of Delegates, died of cancer Dec. 27 at the Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton.

Mr. Emanuel resigned his seat in the state Senate in 1977 saying he planned to move out of his Hyattsville district and that he had grown weary of the often tiresome and ineffective political process. He was chairman of the Prince George's legislative delegation, and was often regarded as its moral and intellectual conscience.

Mr. Emanuel was a certified public accountant who had operated his accounting business in Washington since shortly after World War II.

But for years politics and public affairs were his avocations, and he was first elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1962 as part of a slate of reform-minded Democrats who were attempting to wrest control of Prince George's County government from the Old Guard organization that had managed it for years.

He was elected to the state Senate in 1966 and soon established a reputation as a legislator who was too independent to be controlled by the party organization. Although widely viewed as a liberal, Mr. Emanuel disliked that label. "Call me antiestablishment if you must," he once said.

Known in the Annapolis State House for his raspy voice and well-wrinkled face, Mr. Emanuel was adept at weeding out errors and possible conflicts of interest in the state budget, and he was recognized for his support of such issues as legalized abortion, increased education funding, civil rights and home rule in Prince George's County.

He spoke out against what he said was a "hate campaign" being organized by opponents of court-ordered busing during a period of controversy over school desegregation in Prince George's in 1972 and 1973.

Mr. Emanuel also was critical of several instances of what he said were appearances of conflict of interest by Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel.

In announcing his resignation from the legislature, Mr. Emanuel said he needed to spend more time on his business and with his family. "I decided that the time consumed in the legislature was getting very costly to me," he said. "Lately the assembly seemed more and more like a steam engine going up a hill and getting nowhere."

Mr. Emanuel, who was a resident of Clinton, was born in Washington and grew up in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York and served in the Army during World War II.

He was a member of the board of directors of the John Hanson Savings & Loan Co. and the board of trustees of St. Mary's College.

Survivors include his wife, Louise V. Emanuel of Clinton; four daughters, Elizabeth M. Emanuel and Catherine A. Emanuel, both of Clinton, Judith Sheehan of Upper Marlboro and Roberta Margolies of Rockville; one son, Jonathan Emanuel of Silver Spring; his mother, Julia Merson of Leonardtown; one sister, Estelle Vernick of Connecticut, and four grandchildren.