Despite his low standing in a recent public opinion survey, Michael Peroutka, the Republican nominee for attorney general, signaled on Friday that he does not intend to modify his views in order to boost his chances of winning in November.
During an appearance on WAMU Radio (88.5 FM), Peroutka stuck to the hardline views that earned him the Constitution Party’s presidential nomination in 2004. He also pledged to take legal action against Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and local health officers for actions they took to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Although he is running to be the state’s top lawyer, the Anne Arundel Republican, who served for four years on the county council, again pledged to prioritize what he called “God-given, constitutionally-protected rights” over state and federal laws.
During the wide-ranging interview:
- Peroutka declared that all abortion is murder. “I believe abortion to be against the law of God,” he said. “And I believe it to be violative of the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.” Asked by host Kojo Nnamdi whether he would defend Maryland’s existing laws, which protect abortion access, Peroutka replied: “You call it a law, but in fact, if something is repugnant to the Constitution, then it’s not a law.” He suggested that no law can recognize exceptions due to rape or incest without violating the Constitution. “Abortion would be treated like murder, which it is. There’s no exception to the intentional termination of innocent life.”
- Peroutka offered a similar stance on same-sex marriage, which was approved by statewide referendum and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. “You’re calling it legal. On what basis do you call it legal?” He then added: “The question is whether the court is above the Constitution…”
- Asked whether he still believes his prior claim that public schools are “a plan in the Communist Manifesto,” Peroutka said a “constitutional and moral” approach to education would be to have parents “set the agenda and the curriculum for the children, not the state or the federal government.” He called for the “dis-establishment” of the existing system.
“All education, to one degree or another, is indoctrination,” he said. “The washing of children’s brains — I’m not necessarily saying brainwashing is bad, because every education system brainwashes in some sense — but I believe that those decisions need to be made by local people.”
Like the Republican nominee for governor, Del. Dan Cox (Frederick), Peroutka is a staunch opponent of the restrictions on commerce and social interaction that were imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Both men also fought mask and vaccine mandates the state imposed.
If elected, Peroutka said on the radio, he would make sure the people responsible for those policies are “brought to justice.” Asked by Maryland Matters Friday if he was referring to Hogan and local health officers, Peroutka said yes. “The violations of constitutionally protected rights of assembly, worship, speech, and privacy are deserving of investigation and prosecution,” he wrote in response.
Hogan, who won broad praise for his handling of the pandemic, has slammed Peroutka for spreading “disgusting lies” about the Sept. 11 attacks. The popular, term-limited governor has not endorsed Cox or Peroutka. Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Peroutka also applauded Cox for seeking to block the counting of mail-in ballots as they come in. Cox sought a court order to delay the counting of mail ballots until after Election Day, citing state law. While the Court of Special Appeals has denied Cox’s request seeking a stay to prevent early ballot-counting, the court will hear oral arguments on Cox’s motion next Friday.
Peroutka said that when courts get involved in election matters, they are usurping power that the state constitution gives to the General Assembly. “It would kind of lead to anarchy,” he said. “It’s really the legislative branch’s job to set those rules, and they shouldn’t be overturned by a judge in my view.”
He skipped lightly over his decision to resign from the League of the South, an organization that advocates for a white-dominated, independent South, referring listeners to his website, where he said he laid out his decision to resign from the group.
When asked if he accepts President Biden’s victory in 2020, Peroutka said: “I don’t know.” He claimed that there is a “body of argument” suggesting that “there was serious anomalies and problems and corruption with the election” and another “body of argument” rejecting those claims. He said he would accept the results of November’s election if they “appear to be lawful and legal.”
Peroutka is running against U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D). The congressman is scheduled to appear on WAMU on Oct. 14. Peroutka and Brown are scheduled to have back-to-back conversations with representatives of the Maryland League of Women Voters that will be available online on Oct. 12. Maryland Matters is a co-sponsor of that event.
The Maryland Democratic Party issued a statement on Friday shortly after Peroutka’s comments. “There’s no place for his rhetoric here in Maryland,” the statement said. “He’s racist, he’s sexist, and he’s dangerous.”