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GOP lawmaker seeks impeachment of justices in Pa. gerrymandering case

Friday, February 9, 2018   (0 Comments)
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PennLive

 by John L. Micek

 

GOP lawmaker seeks impeachment of justices in Pa. gerrymandering case

 

A Republican House member from southwestern Pennsylvania is pushing for the impeachment of five Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices -- all of them Democrat -- who handed down a judgment tossing the state's Congressional map.

Rep. Cris Dush, whose district include parts of Indiana and Jefferson counties, began circulating a memo seeking support for the longshot impeachment articles on Monday.

In it, he argues that the five Democratic justices who signed the order overturning the map of the state's 18 congressional districts as unconstitutionally gerrymandered "blatantly and clearly contradict[ed] the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution," and "engaged in misbehavior in office."

The court's order that the General Assembly redraw Pennsylvania's congressional map, which was handed down on Jan. 22, "overrides the express legislative and executive authority, found in Article IV, Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, concerning the Governor's veto authority and the General Assembly's subsequent authority to override such veto. Article IV, Section 15 clearly lays out the path a bill must take to become law."

Dush's memo includes impeachment articles for Justices Max Baer, David Wecht, Debra Todd, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty.


Republicans in the Senate have separately tried to get Wecht kicked off the case. They have also challenged Donohue's impartiality.


House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, whose committee would likely handle Dush's proposal, dismissed the justices as "partisan hacks" who'd overstepped their authority.

"The court has ... early in this court's current makeup, ... showed their partisanship and their total disregard for the US Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution they decided to try and rewrite with their recent ruling," said Metcalfe, who has signed on as a co-sponsor to Dush's proposal. "So I think these judges have shown they are not justices at all, they're are partisan hacks that are sitting on the court.

Metcalfe could not provide a timeline for when Dush's bill might see action in his committee, noting that it had not been formally introduced yet.

On Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who oversees emergency appeals by the states, rejected a request for a stay filed by Republican legislative leaders.

The majority Republican Legislature has until Feb. 9 to come up with a new map. And Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has until Feb. 15 to sign the measure into law. If they do not meet the deadline, the court has signaled it will draw the map for them. The court has hired an expert from Stanford University to assist in that matter.

Republicans have complained that the court has failed to file an opinion that they say would guide them in the redrawing of the Congressional map, where Republicans currently enjoy a 13-5 majority.

Here's the full text of Dush's memo. He could not immediately be reached for comment for this story.

"On January 22, 2018, the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued a per curiam Order ("Order") in League of Women Voters of PA, et. al. v. The Commonwealth of PA, et. al., No. 159 MM 2017, holding that the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 ("Act") "clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" and, on this sole basis, struck it down as unconstitutional. The Court further enjoined the future use of the Act in elections for Pennsylvania seats in the United States House of Representative commencing with the upcoming May 15, 2018 primary election.
The Court in its Order mandates that if the Pennsylvania General Assembly chooses "to submit a congressional districting plan that satisfies the requirements of the Pennsylvania Constitution, it shall submit such plan for consideration by the Governor on or before February 9, 2018." The Court further held that "[i]f the Governor accepts the General Assembly's congressional districting plan, it shall be submitted to this Court on or before February 15, 2018."
"This Order overrides the express legislative and executive authority, found in Article IV, Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, concerning the Governor's veto authority and the General Assembly's subsequent authority to override such veto. Article IV, Section 15 clearly lays out the path a bill must take to become law.

"The five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office.


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