House set to approve broad new powers for attorney general

House set to approve broad new powers for attorney general

Attorney General Brian Frosh has ordered the review of 100 autopsies of people who died in police custody. File photo by Ed Kimmel mdfriendofhillary Flickr Creative Commons License

Listen to this article

By Daniel Menefee

For Maryland Reporter

The first items on the agenda for the Maryland House of Delegates Monday are House and Senate resolutions that will give Attorney General Brian Frosh sole discretion to sue the Trump administration to protect the “state’s interest as well as the health and welfare of Maryland residents.”

The House Rules Committee Friday afternoon voted to report favorably on both resolutions. The Maryland Defense Act of 2017, SJ5, passed the Senate 29-17 Friday morning, after a brief but contentious fight by Senate Republicans to delay the measure.  

“Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of weeks the administration in Washington has taken action that I think is impulsive [and] erratic,” Frosh told the House committee. “If you look at the [Muslim ban] by itself I think it demonstrates to you the need for checks and balances.”

The resolution will give Frosh authority that 41 other state attorneys general have under common law.

Democratic leaders in Annapolis have voiced worries in recent weeks that Trump’s cabinet picks and executive orders have far reaching implications for Maryland’s economy and environment.

The resolution renders Gov. Larry Hogan powerless to direct the state’s top lawyer in litigation against the federal government as he can now.

Concerned about ISIS and foreign brain drain

In addition to citing constitutional issues with Trump’s  “Muslim ban,” Frosh spoke in broader terms about America’s image and vulnerability in the world under a Trump administration. He told the House committee that the Muslim ban not only violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, it was “counterproductive” and “ill-advised” in battling ISIS.

“It makes us less safe, not more safe,” Frosh said. “It gives propaganda opportunities to ISIS, it undermines our allies [and] it makes us less competitive.”

“The United States has been the destination for everybody who wanted to achieve knowledge and to achieve economic success, and we have been a ‘brain drain’ from countries around the world,” he said,

He said over half of the biomedical researches working in the U.S. are foreign born.

“If we put up a ‘not welcome’ sign it reverses that brain drain,” he said.

Frosh says resolution does Hogan a favor

At the hearing, House Republican Leader Nic Kipke challenged Democrat Frosh’s political motivations behind the resolution. Kipke suggested that a slew of lawsuits against the Trump administration could undermine Hogan’s ability to “strike a deal with Republicans” to locate the new FBI headquarters in Maryland, secure federal funds for the Howard Street Tunnel, protect the state’s Medicare waiver and ensure 400,000 Marylanders continue to have access to the Affordable Care Act, among other concerns.

“How can [the governor] be in a strengthened position to secure many of the things people…are demanding he do?” asked Kipke.

Frosh responded that the resolution actually strengthens Hogan’s position by taking him out of the loop.

“You can make the argument that this gives the governor a stronger hand,” Frosh said. “He doesn’t have to take the blame for the attorney general suing the federal government.”

Friday’s vote came a day after nine of the Senate’s 14 Republicans left the chamber in protest when the Democratic majority denied their request to postpone the vote for 24 hours.

Dan Menefee can be reached at

UPDATED: Senate rushes to approve expanded powers of Md. attorney general to challenge Trump policies

About The Author

Dan Menefee

Daniel is a Reporter, If you have additional questions or comments contact Daniel at:


  1. Guest

    Maryland representatives are awful. They are now chasing away the new FBI headquarters because of the sanctuary status of Prince George’s county. Maryland legislators are anti-jobs. All the Democrats should resign. How ridiculous that they don’t want what’s best for their legal residents. If I could leave Maryland, I would. It’s just another poorly run state like NY and NJ.

  2. higgy01

    The absolute stupidity and frankly anti-American attitude of the Maryland so-called legislature is amazing. If the Maryland legislature is trying to emulate the despicable and libtard California equivalent they are doing a good job. If they are trying to act like adults responsible for the welfare and future of citizens of this state they (including the governor) fail miserably.

    • Dale McNamee

      Yet, they are elected and re-elected time and time again by the willingly uniformed, and dare I say it…moronic Maryland voters who vote continue to vote Democrat despite the continuing arrogance and contempt of the Senate and House…

      Keep on voting Democrat ! /sarcasm

  3. DC

    Want to beat your chest? Fine. But the bill calls for a million dollar allotment of tax dollars and the hiring of five more attorneys at Frosh’s office. That’s my beef with the measure. We have schools closing, poverty rampant on the streets of Baltimore, small municipalities in dire need of revitalization and supposedly not enough money in the coffers to help with these issues. But this can be done without anyone raising concern about the amount of funding allotted to make it happen?

  4. charlie hayward

    Frosh’s plan to add MD to the long list of aggrieved parties for every Trump initiative can only be justified on political grounds because the courts’ decisions will never pivot on what a small state with one-party rule has to say. Frosh’s lawsuits won’t make enough of a difference to justify their costs.

    • Bumpy Head

      Yes…but it’s another tremendous opportunity to waste tax payer money to make a political statement. This is Maryland…and that’s what we do.

Support Our Work!

We depend on your support. A generous gift in any amount helps us continue to bring you this service.