Judicial Watch to Appeal Court Decision Halting Taxpayer Challenge to Montgomery College’s Illegal Alien Tuition Discount
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement today regarding the August 16, 2011, decision by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, dismissing Judicial Watch’s taxpayer lawsuit against Montgomery College for providing discounted tuition to illegal aliens:
This decision seems to ignore nearly 150 years of binding precedent in the State of Maryland allowing citizens to challenge the illegal expenditure of taxpayer funds.
Maryland taxpayers should not have to bear the burden of paying for the cost of educating illegal aliens. Especially in this time of extreme financial hardship, Montgomery College’s illegal alien tuition policy, besides being contrary to law, is a waste of precious taxpayer resources. Importantly, the court decision did not find that the college’s policy was legal.
Judicial Watch will most certainly appeal the Circuit Court’s ruling. Our taxpayer clients deserve to have their day in court to uphold the rule of law in Maryland.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit argued that Montgomery College’s tuition policy violates both Maryland and federal law and places a substantial financial burden on Montgomery County taxpayers, who subsidize the cost of students attending the community college. Circuit Court Judge Marielsa A. Bernard ruled that Judicial Watch’s taxpayer clients, all Montgomery County residents, did not have “standing” to bring the lawsuit because enforcement of the law was up to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Therefore, Judge Bernard would not consider the merits of the case.
The lawsuit contends that between 2006 and 2009, Montgomery College failed to collect $5,870,852 in tuition and fees because of its policy of unlawfully allowing a discounted “in-county” tuition rate to illegal aliens and other “out-of- state” students. During the course of the lawsuit, the college admitted that its policy had been in place since at least as early as 2002.
As Judicial Watch noted in a key court filing, long-standing and well-established law in Maryland authorizes taxpayer plaintiffs to bring suit to “enjoin illegal…acts of public officials where those acts are reasonably likely to result in pecuniary loss or an increase in taxes.” In a landmark case in 1869 Maryland’s Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) explained that:
[i]n this state the Courts have always maintained with jealous vigilance the restraints and limitations imposed by law upon the excise of power by municipal and other corporations; and have not hesitated to exercise their rightful jurisdiction for the purpose of restraining them within the limits of their lawful authority, and of protecting the citizen from the consequence of their unauthorized or illegal acts.