In March 2022, the Maryland State Bar Association hosted non-partisan interviews with candidates for the Maryland Attorney General position. The MSBA is apolitical and does not support any particular candidate but aims to increase awareness of each candidate’s plans for moving our state forward. The interviews covered a broad range of topics and served as an important opportunity for members and the public to learn each candidate’s position on issues facing the state and the legal profession generally. One candidate running for the office is Michael A. Peroutka. An attorney and founder of a self-accredited institute that focuses on constitutional teaching, Peroutka served on the Anne Arundel County Council from 2014 to 2018 and spent over 20 years working as an attorney in the area of creditors rights. On Tuesday, March 3, 2022, Natalie McSherry, President of the MSBA and former State Senator Bobby Zirkin sat down with the candidate for an in-depth discussion.
Throughout the discussion Peroutka recognized the Attorney General’s unique role as the state’s top legal officer, and discussed a number of areas where his personal views were seemingly at odds with the duties of the office. In one part of the discussion, Zirkin asked about Peroutka’s prior comments referring to the education system as “a plank of the Communist Manifesto” and whether Peroutka could represent agencies like the Department of Education as Attorney General. In response, Peroutka explained that in his view the education system “is something that does need reform,” and went on to clarify that he would represent the Department of Education to the best of his abilities but would not hide his personal views about the education system generally.
When asked if he could reconcile his personal views with the role of the Attorney General to defend Maryland’s statutory laws concerning same-sex marriage, Peroutka refused to recognize the state’s same-sex marriage protections and expressed his opinion about the type of laws that should be defended by the Attorney General. Peroutka expressed that in his view there were “two standards to determine whether something is lawful, [first] is whether or not it meets the constitutional limitations of government and [second] is whether it is harmonious with God’s law.”
President McSherry raised the topic of public health measures in light of Peroutka’s comments about government overreach by the state of Maryland. Peroutka not only took issue with whether certain agencies had authority to create rules and regulations to protect the public health, but he also clarified that in his opinion “lockdowns [and] face mask mandates” were all examples of government overreach and were all unconstitutional because “to say that people can’t assemble, . . . or can’t practice their religion in church, those things are violative of peoples [constitutional] rights.”
In response to Zirkin’s reference to the recent push for a constitutional amendment to protect a woman’s right to choose, Peroutka opined that the state’s abortion laws were a nullity. He went on to state his view that a “child in the womb . . . has not faced a grand jury, has not been indicted by a grand jury, has not had due process, and has not been convicted by a jury of its peers . . . [and] as Attorney General I would not defend that statute.”
You can view the entire discussion with Peroutka and all the Attorney General candidates who spoke with the MSBA here.