[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, a Baltimore Circuit Court Judge today heard arguments concerning the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage prohibition. The plaintiffs allege that a 1973 state law which states that only a marriage between a man and woman is valid violates their constitutional rights, and an American Civil Liberties Union attorney told the judge, "There is no permissible reason for this discrimination. It does not serve a rationale or legitimate purpose of government." This year, Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. [official website] signed into law [PDF text] a bill giving gays protection under the state's hate-crime statute, but vetoed a bill which would have given domestic partners the right to make medical decisions for their partners. At least six states have pending legal challenges to state marriage laws. The Baltimore Sun has local coverage.
In other state legal news ...
- Tennessee State Representative Chris Newton [official profile] pled guilty Tuesday to taking bribes in exchange for legislative favors, becoming the first lawmaker charged in a continuing federal investigation to admit guilt. Four other current or former senators were charged along with Newton in May for helping a company, E-Cycle Management, get favorable legislation passed by the General Assembly. Newton later commented that he "became caught up in business as usual in Nashville." State Senators Ward Crutchfield [official profile] and Kathryn Bowers [official profile] along with former senators John Ford and Roscoe Dixon were also indicted. AP has more.
- Kentucky Attorney General Craig Stumbo [KY AG website] said Tuesday that he is considering challenging the legality of pardons issued Monday by Governor Ernie Fletcher [official website] clearing current and former aides charged in an inquiry into the governor's hiring practices. The governor said that there was no need for a criminal inquiry as two administrative agencies are also investigating. In June a grand jury was impaneled and has so far charged 9 current and former members of the administration with misdemeanor violations of the state's personnel law, saying that hiring decisions were based on politics and not merits. Stumbo conceded that the pardon power under the Kentucky Constitution [text] is among the broadest in the nation. Louisville's Courier-Journal has local coverage.