Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. Randall

Decision Date12 January 1956
Docket NumberMARYLAND-NATIONAL,No. 150,150
Citation120 A.2d 195,209 Md. 18
PartiesTheCAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION, a public body corporate of the State of Maryland. v. Blanchard RANDALL, Secretary of State of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

J. Bond Smith, Silver Spring, H. Warren Buckler, Jr., Baltimore (Joe M. Kyle, Rockville, on the brief), for appellant.

Stedman Prescott, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen. (C. Ferdinand Sybert, Atty. Gen., on the brief), for appellee.



For reasons to be set forth in an opinion to be hereafter filed in this case, it is ordered by the Court of Appeals this 12th day of January, 1956, that the order of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County dismissing the petition be, and it is hereby, affirmed with costs.



This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County dismissing the petition in a special case stated, brought under Code 1951, Article 16, Sections 238 and 239, hereinafter referred to as the petition. This case was brought by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, plaintiff, appellant, an administrative agency of the State of Maryland and a public body corporate created by Chapter 448 of the Laws of Maryland 1927, against Blanchard Randall, Secretary of State of Maryland, defendant, appellee.

The petition states that the General Assembly of Maryland in its 1955 session enacted House Bill 505. The Governor of Maryland vetoed this Bill after the adjournment of the Legislature. Article II, Section 17, of the Maryland Constitution requires that the said Bill be returned to the House in which it originated, immediately after said House shall have organized at the next regular or special session of the General Assembly. The petition alleges that the Bill probably will be passed by the General Assembly over the Governor's veto. It asks the chancellor to decide nine questions of law arising from the enactment of House Bill 505 by the General Assembly at its 1955 session and before its return to the next regular or special session.

Appellant contends that said Bill, if passed over the Governor's veto, will be void and a nullity and that the chancellor has jurisdiction at this stage of the legislation to take affirmative action to so declare it. It further asks that a decree be entered either enjoining and prohibiting the Secretary of State from transmitting said House Bill 505 to the House of Delegates of Maryland or declaring said Bill void in whole or in part or deciding that said Bill is regular and valid in all respects, and that the decree contain such other provisions as may be proper in the premises.

The chancellor was of opinion that she was without power to interfere with the duty of the Secretary of State to return the vetoed Bill to the General Assembly as required by the Constitution and, by order, on December 13, 1955, dismissed the Petition. From that order appellant appeals.

The Constitution of Maryland, Article II, Section 17, supra, provides in part as follows: 'Any bill which is vetoed by the Governor following the adjournment of the General Assembly, or any bill which fails to become a law by reason of not having been signed by the Governor following the adjournment of the General Assembly, shall be returned to the House in which it originated, immediately after said House shall have organized at the next regular or special session of the General Assembly. Said bill may then be reconsidered according to the procedure specified hereinabove. If the bill is passed over the veto of the Governor, it shall take effect on June 1 following, unless the bill is an emergency measure to take effect when passed.'

The primary question before us in this case is whether the courts have jurisdiction at this stage of the Bill to determine the questions raised by the petition.

The appellant relies strongly on the case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters of Holy Names (Pierce v. Hill Military Academy), 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070. That case involved an Oregon statute requiring all children in that State between the ages of eight and sixteen, with certain minor exceptions, to attend public schools. Two private corporations, one of which operated a parochial school and the other a military school for children within the ages covered by the statute, brought suit to enjoin the Governor, the Attorney General of Oregon, and the District Attorney for the county in which both schools were located, from enforcing the statute. That statute had been adopted under the initiative provision of the Oregon Constitution by the voters of Oregon on November 7, 1922. The effective date was September 1, 1926, some years after the suits were filed and fifteen months after the case was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. Injunctions were issued as prayed and affirmed by the Supreme Court because the statute would be unconstitutional when it became effective. There, the proceedings for the injunction were brought after the act had been adopted and all necessary legislative action completed, which is not the case here.

In some States it has been held that the process of passage is still legislative whether the bills and constitutional amendments are passed by a referendum to the vote of the people or by the State Legislature, and that, therefore, the courts have no authority to enjoin executive officers from placing such bills and constitutional amendments on the ballot to be voted on by the people. People ex rel. O'Reilly v. Mills, 30 Colo. 262, 70 P. 322, 323; State ex rel. Carson v. Kozer, 126 Or. 641, 270 P. 513. As pointed out by the appellee, it was said in Bowe v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, 320 Mass. 230, 247, 69 N.E.2d 115, 127, 167 A.L.R. 1447: 'By the initiative, the people, like the General Court, may enact measures that violate the fundamental and supreme law of the Constitution and that consequently have no force or effect. But no court can interfere with the process of legislation, either by the General Court or by the people, before it is completed, to prevent the possible enactment of an unconstitutional measure. Horton v. Attorney General, 269 Mass. 503, 514, 169 N.E. 552; Opinion of the Justices, 309 Mass. 571, 580, 34 N.E.2d 527; Prentis v. Atlantic Coast Line Co., 211 U.S. 210, 228, 230, 29 S.Ct. 67, 53 L.Ed. 150. The judiciary is barred from the legislative filed just as it is from the executive.'

In Schneider v. Lansdale, 191 Md. 317, 61 A.2d 671, 673, strongly relied on by the appellant, a suit was instituted to enjoin the Board of Supervisors of Elections of Montgomery County from submitting to the voters of that County at the next election a charter proposed under Article XIA of the Constitution of this State. In that case all legislative action had been completed and the only step necessary to make the charter effective was approval by the voters. In that case it was said by Chief Judge Marbury: 'Before we come to the substantive constitutional point, we have before us the contention made by the defendants that the courts cannot interfere with the legislative processes, and that enjoining the submission to the voters of a proposed charter is such interference. Many authorities are cited in support of this view, and they are impressive and persuasive. But in this State we have actually passed upon the validity of proposed constitutional or charter amendments, and have enjoined submission of an invalid charter amendment. Williams v. Broening, 135 Md. 226, 108 A. 781; Jones v. Broening, 135 Md. 237, 108 A. 785; Hillman v. Stockett, 183 Md. 641, 39 A.2d 803. In the cases cited there were presented specific questions, which would necessarily have arisen after approval by the voters and which could just as conveniently be decided before submission as afterwards. In Hillman v. Stockett, supra, there was also presented another question, which might never arise and could never arise except in the event of adoption of both of two proposed amendments. This contingent and possibly moot question, the court declined to pass upon before submission to the voters. We think such a question is now presented as the court should consider in advance of submission.' The cases of Williams v. Broening, supra; Jones v. Broening, supra; Hillman v. Stockett, supra; and Schneider v. Lansdale, supra, all involved the submission of charters or constitutional amendments to the voters. Those cases, and Soper v. Jones, 171 Md. 643, 187 A. 833, also held that the courts may enjoin executive officers in the performance of ministerial duties. However, in the instant case Article II, Section 17, of the Maryland Constitution, supra, specifically requires that the Bill here be returned to the...

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