On January 6th, 2021, Maryland Del. (and now gubernatorial candidate) Dan Cox infamously tweeted “Pence is a traitor.” Brian Griffiths has a few things to say about that in a new Duckpin post this morning, but I wanted to add a further thought of my own.
Dan Cox styles himself a “Constitutional Attorney.” The problem here is not that there’s anything wrong with being a constitutional attorney — quite the contrary! — but that, on the available public evidence, Cox simply isn’t a very good one. His apparent notions of how the U. S. Constitution sets forth the presidential succession process proved embarrassingly wrong, which is why not a single federal judge or state legislative chamber was willing to go along with his side in January 2021, any more than Mike Pence was. His notions of how state and local public health powers fit in with constitutional law, again, are at variance with those of Justices Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch, not just those of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
If nominated, Cox would continue to run around Maryland making untenable claims about constitutional law, but now as his party’s official standard-bearer. And he would drag the Maryland Republican Party down to ignominious defeat in November.
Amid other interesting primary battles it’s easy to lose sight of the one for the Republican nomination for Maryland Attorney General. But it’s important. Everyone in favor of a sane and relevant GOP should back Jim Shalleck of Montgomery County, an experienced prosecutor who’s campaigning primarily on the crime issue. Shalleck’s primary opponent is the appalling Michael Anthony Peroutka, the “wackypants theocracy buff” (as I’ve called him) whose crank constitutionalism and bizarre views on “Biblical law” I’ve written about for years.
Jim Shalleck is a credible figure who’d be an asset to a statewide Republican ticket. Michael Peroutka is working the Dan Cox circuit while somehow managing to be even more extreme than Cox himself. It shouldn’t even be a contest, but in today’s political atmosphere, you never know.
Del. Daniel Cox reacts to my recent opinion piece with his usual degree of temperateness and accuracy:
On accuracy, for example, he baldly asserts that his constitutional claims failed “based on one point: mootness.” But as I noted in my piece, the Fourth Circuit explicitly carved out only his religion claims to dismiss as moot, while separately upholding as correct the district judge’s dismissal of all the rest of his claims on grounds unrelated to mootness. Does he even read the decisions he loses? (More here and here.)
As for Cox’s vicious invective against me personally, it hardly deserves to be dignified with a response. Seriously, who can read this sort of thing without concluding that this man is utterly unfit for public office?
I’ve written a new piece at Maryland Reporter on last month’s ruling by a federal appeals court confirming the demise of Del. Dan Cox’s suit against Larry Hogan claiming that the governor’s emergency COVID-19 orders had violated the law and the constitution. A few excerpts:
“Then there were the signs of hasty lawsuit drafting… One subhead in the original filing cited ‘Irreparable Injury To Plaintiffs From Governor Northam’s Gathering Orders,’ comically echoing a suit filed earlier in a different state – Virginia — against Gov. Ralph Northam.”…
“The suit was decked out with rhetorical flights and what you might call ambitious theories of constitutional law, such as that [Gov. Hogan’s pandemic] orders had had the effect of depriving Marylanders of a republican form of government. As the appeals court noted last month, Cox’s subsequent briefing did not go on to argue the merits of many of these theories, leaving Judge Blake free to dismiss them without discussion….
“Del. Cox will undoubtedly continue to work the campaign trail making strongly worded claims about the U.S. and Maryland constitutions as he understands them. Just remember that the actual federal courts keep making it clear that his ideas about the Constitution are not theirs.”
I covered the initial dismissal of Cox’s suit two years ago for the Frederick News-Post.