Thursday, January 18, 2007


Wal Mart -2; Joe Curran and the Democrats -0

As noted by Crablaw, the 4th Circuit completed the judicial smackdown of the pathetic effort by Maryland Democrats to stick it to Wal Mart. My first post ever concerned this bill as I couldn’t get over the smugness of the Democratic legislators involved. Maryland Conservatarian: Maryland's bid to get business to Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania.... That was January 2006.

Later in July Federal District Court Judge Frederick Motz ruled the Maryland legislature’s actions (and it was all the legislature – then(sigh)-Governor Ehrlich had properly vetoed the bill only to have the legislature override that.) were pre-empted by ERISA. I noted at the time that I thought Judge Motz got the ruling right but I’d just as soon not have Federal pre-emption written into so many rules. A lot of Maryland legal “talent” then went to work on an appeal and, not surprisingly, Judge Motz’s decision got the better of them. As noted by Crab, one of his other blogging sites Maryland Courts Watcher has a good concise write-up with useful links. Retail Industry Leaders Ass'n v. Fielder (4th Cir. Ct. Appeals)

A few parting observations: Maryland got bad advice from then-Attorney General Joe Curran who was unequivocal in his claim that this did not run afoul of ERISA. Curran: ‘Wal-Mart’ bill not a violation of federal ERISA law. It continued to get bad advice as his office then helped in the appeal.

Joe Curran also thought the state requirement that an attorney had to be practicing in Maryland for 10 years to be eligible for the AG’s office needn’t apply to Tom Perez…he got taken down on that one, too. Both instances smacked of politics vice competent legal analysis making the decision which increasingly seemed to be the M.O. of his office. I am not going to miss Joe Curran.

And no word yet on whether newbie-AG Doug Gansler is going to appeal or correctly read the tea leaves.

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