BALTIMORE – Maryland’s attorney general says he plans to use newfound power to sue the federal government by joining a Washington state lawsuit trying to upend President Donald Trump’s new travel ban.
The General Assembly granted Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat, sweeping authority last month to file lawsuits against the Trump administration without first securing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s approval. When Frosh joins Washington’s lawsuit on Monday, he will use that power for the first time.
Maryland will join New York, Oregon, Massachusetts and Minnesota in the suit, which contends that both of Trump’s temporary travel bans for people from certain predominantly Muslim countries are unconstitutional.
The president unveiled a more narrow executive order to replace the more expansive one, which was temporarily blocked by a court after Washington state’s initial lawsuit.
“The more voices, the better,” Frosh said in an interview. “It’s a Muslim ban. It’s illegal; it’s unconstitutional; it’s un-American.”
The Trump administration has said the travel restrictions are designed to bolster national security. The executive orders have been criticized as a potentially unconstitutional religious test.
The new, narrower order – it bans travel from six countries instead of seven and scales back other provisions – was designed to withstand legal challenges.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration felt “very confident with how that was crafted and the input that was given.”
Washington’s Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Thursday that he planned to challenge the constitutionality of the more narrow ban. Hawaii’s attorney general, Democrat Doug Chin, was the first to announce a legal challenge to it.
Frosh said Maryland’s involvement would be handled by an assistant attorney general and the legal work would be spread out among the states involved.
Frosh unilaterally joining the suit is a departure from how Maryland has handled litigation in more than 150 years.
Until General Assembly Democrats pushed through a measure last month to let him bypass the governor, all such lawsuits required approval of the governor. Maryland was one of nine states that did not grant autonomy to the attorney general through common law.
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