Time to Strip “Law Clinics” of Taxpayer Funding

The left’s notion of “rights” is telling.  They believe that “free speech” entitles them to be published rather than just being free from government interference or sanction.  They believe that “freedom of opportunity” means that if the desired results are not attained, then discrimination is a given.  They believe that “academic freedom” means the “right” to spend taxpayer dollars however they please.  In the case of the University of Maryland law school that means using state tax dollars to promote a radical environmental agenda and bankrupt a farm family in Worcester County.

The Waterkeepers’ Alliance and Assateague Coastal Trust are suing the Hudson family and Perdue Farms claiming that they are polluting a tributary of the Pocomoke River.  Fair enough, this is America.  The dirty, not-so-little secret is that the Hudson family, Perdue Farms, and every taxpayer on the Eastern Shore is helping to pay for this lawsuit.  The University of Maryland’s law school is acting as the attorney for these two environmental groups.

Despite findings from the Maryland Department of the Environment, hardly a bastion of anti-environmentalism, that the Hudson family is not responsible for the pollution cited, our tax dollars are being used to destroy this family.  Even “green” Gov. Martin O’Malley has had enough.

In a recent letter he criticized the Environmental Law Clinic for their actions.  The response from the left was predictable.  The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board accused O’Mally of “unethical behavior”. In a classic “bait and switch” they ask how O’Malley could possibly know who is right.  As usual, that isn’t the point.

Why should an Eastern Shore farm family be forced to seek VOLUNTARY donations or use their own money to defend themselves against groups that are supported with the family’s own tax dollars?  The state has already had its bite at the apple.  Now these environmental groups want to use civil litigation to do what the administrative and criminal justice systems did not – run the poultry industry off of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Make no mistake, that is their goal.  Two years ago Wicomico residents were barraged with false information from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation claiming that county farmers needed to be stripped of their property rights in the name of “preserving our agricultural heritage”.  At the same time they were telling their Western Shore contributors that their goal was to rid Delmarva of “factory farms” (translations – poultry growers).  That is the ultimate goal of the enviro-left.

Last year a compromise was reached in the General Assembly to restore funding for the Environmental Law Clinic.  Yet, the arrogance of these environmental groups and the law school shows that they have no interest in abiding by that compromise.

When the legislature returns to session in January, one priority should be to strip of the Environmental Law Clinic of ALL state funding.  That includes the salaries of any professors tied to the clinic.  This isn’t about “academic freedom”.  There is no right of a state-supported institution to sue the very taxpayers who fund it.

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