Cohen v. Governor of Md.

Decision Date01 September 1969
Docket NumberNo. 120,120
Citation255 Md. 5,255 A.2d 320
PartiesStanley COHEN v. GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND et al. ,
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Elizabeth M. Eckhardt, Baltimore, for appellant.

Robert F. Sweeney, Deputy Atty. Gen. (Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., and Henry R. Lord, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellees.

Before HAMMOND, C. J., and MARBURY, BARNES, McWILLIAMS, FINAN, SINGLEY and SMITH, JJ.

ORDER

PER CURIAM.

For reasons to be given in an opinion to be filed later the Court of Appeals of Maryland is firmly persuaded that the direction of Section 1 of Article 14 of the Constitution of Maryland that a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature be submitted to the qualified voters of the State for adoption or rejection at 'the next ensuing general election' is not gratified by submission of the constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature at its 1969 Session to the voters of the State at an election called for that special purpose only for November 4, 1969 by Ch. 76 of the Laws of Maryland of 1969, and therefore, it is this thirtieth day of June, 1969 by the Court of Appeals of Maryland ordered that the order of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City dated June 3, 1969 appealed from be, and it is hereby, reversed with costs; the mandate of this Court shall issue forthwith.

OPINION

BARNES, Judge.

In this appeal, Stanley Cohen, the plaintiff below and appellant here, has challenged the constitutionality of Chapter 76 of the Laws of Maryland, 1969, which purported to provide for a 'general election' on November 4, 1969 at which time all amendments to the Maryland Constitution proposed by the General Assembly of Maryland at its 1969 Session were to be submitted for adoption or rejection.

Because of the public importance of the case, the Court issued its Per Curiam Order on June 30, 1969 for reasons to be given in an opinion to be filed later, in which it indicated that the Court 'is firmly persuaded that the direction of Section 1 of Article XIV of the Constitution of Maryland that a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature be submitted to the qualified voters of the State for adoption or rejection at 'the next ensuing General Election' is not gratified by submission of the constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature at the 1969 Session to the voters of the State at an election called for that special purpose only for November 4, 1969 by Ch. 76 of the Laws of Maryland of 1969' and reversed the Order of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City dated June 3, 1969 dismissing the Bill of Complaint, with costs and we issued the mandate forthwith. Our reasons for our opinion follow.

The General Assembly passed eight proposed constitutional amendments, with the required three-fifths vote in both Houses, for submission to the voters of Maryland for adoption or rejection. These amendments may be briefly summarized for the purposes of this appeal as follows:

1. House Bill No. 13, passed the House of Delegates on March 4, 1969 and the Senate on March 20th. It became Chapter 784 of the Laws of 1969. It provided for a lower period of residency for residents of the State and election district for voting with special provisions for residence requirements for Presidential elections.

2. House Bill No. 913, passed the House on March 14th and the Senate on March 21st. It became Chapter 785 of the Laws of 1969. It would fix the size of the two Houses of the General Assembly, establish standards for districting the State and for redistricting and reapportionment on a regular basis.

3. House Bill No. 914, passed the House on March 11th and the Senate on March 20th. It became Chapter 786 of the Laws of 1969. It would establish an alternate procedure for any county to submit to the voters of that county the question of adopting or rejecting a charter form of government.

4. Senate Bill No. 442, passed the Senate on March 25th and the House on the same day, March 25th, the last day of the 1969 legislative session. It became Chapter 787 of the Laws of 1969. It would establish the office of Lieutenant Governor for the State and would adopt procedure generally relating to his appointment, qualifications and election, as well as for gubernatorial succession and impeachment. Section 1 of this Act contained the following provisions amending Article II, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution:

'An election for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, under this Constitution, shall be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday of November, in the year nineteen hundred and seventy IF THIS AMENDMENT IS ADOPTED IN THE YEAR NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY-NINE; OR, FOR GOVERNOR IN THE YEAR NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY AND JOINTLY FOR GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR IN NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR IF THIS AMENDMENT IS ADOPTED IN THE YEAR NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY, and on the same day and month in every fourth year thereafter, at the places of voting for Delegates to the General Assembly; * * *' (The portion of Sec. 2 in capital letters was added by amendment after the introduction of the original bill.)

5. Senate Bill No. 481, passed the Senate on March 25th and the House on the same day, March 25th. It became Chapter 788 of the Laws of 1969. It would permit sessions of the General Assembly to extend to 90 days, with an additional possible 30-day extension by a three-fifth vote of each House, would establish the General Assembly Compensation Commission and would provide for the convening of extraordinary sessions of the General Assembly by the Governor.

6. Senate Bill No. 524, passed the Senate on March 17th and the House on March 24th. It became Chapter 789 of the Laws of 1969. It would increase the size and powers as well as alter the procedures of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities; it would create a District Court for the State which would replace the trial magistrates, the justices of the peace and various People's Courts of the State; and it provided that no member of the General Assembly at which the amendment was passed or at which the number or salary of any such judges may have been increased or decreased should be ineligible for appointment as a judge of the District Court because of membership in the General Assembly.

7. Senate Bill No. 526, passed the Senate on March 14th and the House on March 20th. It became Chapter 790 of the Laws of 1969. It would authorize the Governor to make changes in the Executive Branch of the State Government by certain specific measures and would set forth the legal status of such reorganizations when made in conformity with those specific methods.

8. Senate Bill No. 581, passed the Senate on March 17th and the House on March 21st. It became Chapter 791 of the Laws of 1969. It would empower the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint all trial and appellate judges of the State; would establish procedures for hearings and confirmation or rejection by the Senate; would establish a term of 15 years for each judge so appointed and confirmed at the end of which term the Governor would reappoint the judge, subject to approval or rejection by the Senate; and would increase the powers and alter the procedures of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

Section 2 of Chapter 784 (House Bill No. 13) is different from Section 2 of the other seven proposed constitutional amendments. Section 2 in Chapter 784 provides as follows:

'SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, that the aforegoing section hereby proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of Maryland, at the next general election to be held in this State in November 1970, shall be submitted to the legal and qualified voters thereof for their adoption or rejection in pursuance of directions contained in Article XIV of the Constitution of this State, and at the said general election, the vote on the said proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be by ballot, and upon each ballot there shall be printed the words 'For the Constitutional Amendment' and 'Against the Constitutional Amendment' as now prescribed by law, and, immediately after said election, all returns saall be made to the Governor of the vote for and against said proposed amendment, as directed by said Article XIV of the Constitution, and further proceedings had in accordance with said Article XIV.' (Emphasis supplied.)

In all of the remaining seven constitutional amendments Sec. 2 does not contain the words and figures, 'in November 1970', but is otherwise identical to Section 2 in Chapter 784. In these remaining seven proposed amendments the language is that 'The foregoing sections hereby proposed as amendments to the Constitution of Maryland, at the next ensuing general election to be held in this State, shall be submitted * * *' etc.

Chapter 76 of the Laws of 1969, principally under attack in this case, was House Bill No. 853. It passed the House on March 12th, the Senate on March 20th, was returned to the House on March 21st and was signed by the Governor on April 9, 1969. It provides as follows:

'AN ACT providing for a general election on November 4, 1969, at which shall be submitted for adoption or rejection all amendments to the Maryland Constitution proposed by the General Assembly in its 1969 session, and relating generally to this election.

'SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland, that the following provisions with respect to the holding of a general election on November 4, 1969, at which shall be submitted for adoption or rejection all amendments to the Constitution of Maryland proposed by the General Assembly in its 1969 session, be, and are, hereby adopted.

'1. A general election shall be held on Tuesday, November 4, 1969 at which shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State for adoption or rejection all amendments to the Constitution of Maryland proposed by the General Assembly during its 1969 legislative...

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    ...provision" of the Constitution, "we are required to declare such an act unconstitutional and void." Id.; see Cohen v. Governor of Maryland, 255 Md. 5, 22, 255 A.2d 320, 328 (1969). Therefore, if it is established that a statute is vague—offends due process8 —and/or overbroad—sweeps within t......
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