Michael Peroutka, who’s leading in a recent poll in the race for the July 19 Republican nomination for Maryland Attorney General, has been a frequent subject of coverage on this page for his “crank constitutionalism and bizarre views on ‘Biblical law’.” What follows below is a quick guide to what I’ve published here together with links to a couple of pieces by others.
To start with the latter, those new to this subject might want to start with Brian Griffiths’ overview in The Duckpin of Peroutka’s strange views and public career, including his popularization (through his Pasadena-based Institute on the Constitution) of the work of the late R.J. Rushdoony, Jr., an advocate of theocratic rule. In an interview with Bill Moyers, recounted by Griffiths, mentor Rushdoony defended one of his best-known ideas, that Biblical law requires the execution of adulterers and practicing homosexuals, among numerous other groups such as blasphemers. “The absolute last thing Republicans in Maryland need is to have a radical extremist like Peroutka on the statewide ballot,” Griffiths writes. (I was writing about Rushdoony and his Christian Reconstructionist followers as long ago as 1998.)
Peroutka has also come in for much criticism over his long involvement with the separatist, and eventually secessionist, League of the South. Journalist Van Smith covered Peroutka extensively in the old Baltimore City Paper, and at least some of his coverage can be found behind the Baltimore Sun paywall, though you can dig for it elsewhere.
While Peroutka’s public-facing career goes back decades, my coverage here at this blog begins with his 2014 primary win in a race for Anne Arundel county council. To quote that post:
Just last month Peroutka was suggesting that the laws of the state of Maryland are owed no allegiance, having diverged from the Divine will on numerous points. (He explains that “an enactment must not violate God’s law,” describes Maryland’s as a “lawless legislature” and writes of such a legislature that “no validity should be given to any of its enactments.”) That should make the whole “oath of office” thing fun if he gets in as a county commissioner.
A few weeks earlier I had noted his links to politics in Carroll County, which have included generous campaign contributions. I wrote that his Institute on the Constitution
promotes a deeply erroneous view of the U.S. Constitution as an essentially religious document, a view not unconnected with the theocratic crankery of [the late John] Lofton and others associated with his group. [links omitted]
Peroutka’s Republican loyalties, it should be noted, are at best changeable. Although it has been a decade since he ran on the Constitution Party ticket, he delivered himself of the following sentiments just last October: “Anyone, including those who identify with the ‘Tea Party’, who loves America and desires real reform, would do well to disengage themselves from the Republican Party and their brand of worthless, Godless, unprincipled conservatism.”
In a Aug. 28, 2014 roundup I linked to coverage by Len Lazarick and Barry Rascovar that mentioned the website StopPeroutka dot com, posted by opponents. That site is now defunct, but you can see a screenshot of it here. An Aug. 9, 2014 roundup has a couple of additional links.
In 2015, after his election to the county council, I noted his attendance at a rally for lawbreaking Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and rounded up a couple of other stories. In 2017 Peroutka was onstage with Alabama’s Roy Moore at Moore’s primary win. In 2018 he lost his primary race for re-election to the county council.
Last month I noted that he was going to be on the July 19 primary ballot against a far better choice, Jim Shalleck of Montgomery County, whose temperate, responsible record stands in contrast to Peroutka’s. That followed up on a February post that noted Peroutka’s filing for Maryland AG and linked Griffiths’ article. I also noted Len Lazarick’s report that at an Annapolis rally, Peroutka had taken the view that Gov. Larry Hogan “had violated the constitution and effectively removed himself as governor.”
Gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox has endorsed Peroutka. It figures.