PA Supreme Court Usurps Legislative Prerogative

Pennsylvania Flag

This isn’t directly a gun issue, but for those Pennsylvanians that may not have hard, the PA Supreme Court, controlled now by Democrats because our voters penchant for ticket splitting,  decided to declare our Congressional districts unconstitutional under the Pennsylvania Constitution. On what grounds? We have no idea. Because the Court released the order to the legislature and governor to act in the next few weeks, or else the Court will draw new districts for them. Act how? They can’t know. Because there’s no opinion and no guidelines. The legislature has to have a plan to the Governor by February 9th. The Governor and the legislature have to have a final plan submitted to the Court by February 15th. Keep in mind the legislature is under GOP control and the Governor is a Dem. The Court knows this is an impossible deadline. They intend to usurp the process. They will act as a legislature. They are now a lawless body.

What’s worse? There’s no clear federal question to get the US Supreme Court to intervene. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the final arbiter on Pennsylvania law and the Pennsylvania Constitution, absent a federal question.

I struggle to even find where in the Pennsylvania Constitution it mentions Congressional Districts. It prescribes how state House and Senate districts are to be drawn. Under what grounds could this possibly be based? I don’t know. There’s no opinion.

Now, we’d have an easy federal question here, because there is a body drawing federal congressional districts, and that body is not the Pennsylvania legislature. But back 2015 the Supreme Court decided Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which held that it was just fine and dandy for the legislature to delegate it’s power under the federal constitution to draw districts to an entity not itself (commission, or to referendum, etc). However in this case, the legislature delegated nothing. The PA Supreme Court has taken this power upon itself. So I still think we may have a federal issue to raise with the Elections Clause. [UPDATE: Looking more at the details of  how it happen in Arizona, it looks like the commission was set up by the ballot. So the voters took away deciding districts from the legislature, not the legislature delegating it. Either way, I think the case was wrongly decided. It’s long been time to make the non-delegation doctrine great again.]

Also, and this is probably more a stretch, even though it should not be: I did not elect the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to act as my legislature and draw my Congressional Districts. I am guaranteed the right to a republican form of government under the federal constitution. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court acting as my legislature violates that guarantee.

To me this is a torches and pitchforks issue. In the matter of redistricting, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have declared themselves dictators. Never again will I vote for or to retain a Democrat on the Supreme Court, despite having done so in the past. I am not a mindless partisan, and mostly hate the Republican Party. I appreciate Democratic Justice Baer, who concurred with the finding that the districts were unconstitutional, but found the remedy too radical. He did the right thing. But your party did the wrong thing, and a blatantly partisan wrong thing. It’s such a wrong thing, the dissent to the remedy can’t fix it for me.

This is just too much of an insult to the voters in this Commonwealth.

24 thoughts on “PA Supreme Court Usurps Legislative Prerogative”

  1. The Republican Form Of Government clause went out the window when states were no longer allowed to have geographically-based districting.

    1. I’ve often wondered whether a “state copy” of the Federal system would hold up against a “Baker” challenge.

      A state could apportion its legislature by two Senators per county with the least populated county granted one assembly member and the others getting a population proportionate number of members.

      Would the USSC rule that the federal legislature, in effect, was unconstitutional?

      1. Yes, they would. But it wouldn’t get that far because the Supreme Court already invalidated that kind of arrangement in Reynolds v. Sims.

        1. Which was what I couldn’t remember the name of to cite properly. Thanks.

      2. As Sebastian pointed out, the Supreme Court of the United States has already held, in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), that in elections for ALL chambers of state legislatures, the electoral districts must have roughly equal population.

        The only body that can be elected based on geography instead of population is the United States Senate, because the Constitution explicitly provides for it. Because such a provision is not made for state legislatures, they must be based on population.

        1. I can’t help but wonder if this is because State Legislatures have powers over county boundaries — and how it would be ruled if a State Constitution had similar restrictions on changing the boundaries of counties, as the country’s Constitution has on the boundaries of States…

  2. Its clear judges at all levels only care about the result and protecting government power, and they don’t care how they get here.

    1. There’s a danger in doing this as well: that when the time comes that Republicans come into power again, that they will do exactly the same thing, because the precedent is there.

      It reminds me of the line from “A Man For All Seasons”, where More says “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man’s laws, not God’s– and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.”

      Democrats have this tendency to do everything they can do to secure power; they don’t realize that the laws, regulations, and traditions are there as much to protect them as it is a roadblock for their own quest for power….

  3. People didn’t seem to give a FLYING F*** about “Gerrymandering”, a word NOT EVEN MENTIONED IN THE ACTUAL TEXT OF THE CONSTITUTION, when the Democrat Party was doing it for 40 Years, from 1951 to 1991. They controlled the USHOR from 1954 to 1994 because of it, too.

    I read the ruling from the PA Supreme Court and it basically said; “Pennsylvania MUST BE GERRYMANDERED to favor DEMOCRATS”.

    The Democrat Party wants Filthy Philadelphia and that Filthy, Vile, Vulgar, and absolutely Corrupt, Philadelphia Democrat Machine to dictate Pennsylvania, just as Chicago dictates Illinois, and Newark dictates NJ. Given that the Democrats in PA have lost almost all of Western PA and are steadily losing Allegheny County, they need to rig this State under the Philadelphia Democrat Machine.

    Also, there is an “activist organization”, aka, a Democrat Party Splinter Faction called, the Democratic Redistricting Committe funding these litigations against USHOR Districts lead by none other than Barack Obama’s junkyard dog, Eric Holder.

    Maobama has his filthy hands in ALL of this!

  4. It’s interesting to look at the Commonwealth Court findings: Here.

    Interestingly, point 64, page 127, says “Petitioners, however, have failed to meet their burder of proving [the plan] violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. For the judiciary, this should be the end of the inquiry”.

    The Supreme Court order following, here is remarkably information-free, yes.

    (See one of the dissents, which ends with “My position at this juncture is only that I would not presently upset those districts, in such an extraordinarily compressed fashion, and without clarifying – for the benefit of the General Assembly and the public – the constitutional standards by which districting is now being adjudged in Pennsylvania”, which I take as the Judge version of “Is there even a standard we’re using?

    The other Dissent is even more forceful about “aren’t we supposed to, like, explain why it’s unconstitutional or something?”

    (Mostly I want to provide original sources, since NRO was awful about sourcing and only linked to, which is even worse and only links to itself and wouldn’t even name the case; I had to guess to find it on the PA court website (it’s “League of Women Voters et. al vs. Commonwealth et. al”.

    TL;DR “Court reporting is even worse than normal reporting”.)

    1. So, what happens if the Leg and Governor ask “Thomas G. Saylor has made his decision; now let him enforce it?”

      I mean, other that triggering a mother of a constitutional crisis in PA? I mean, seriously, Sigivald’s pointed out a couple of legs for them to stand on in the dissents.

      1. The Dem governor is unlikely to play along with that, and to be honest, the fix is probably in for him to refuse any redistricting fix the legislature sends him. This was engineered to ensure the Dem Supreme Court would have a free hand in choosing new districts that favor Democrats.

        1. If that happens, the County Commissioners and local elected officials of the GOP controlled USHOR PA Congressional Districts should tell the Courts to pound sand, and, pull of the Andrew Jackson: “The Court has ruled, now let them enforce it”.

          The PAGOP must be prepared to petition the SCOTUS on this. The PA State Constitution is above and beyond the word of the Courts, and the SCOTUS can rule that a State Level Court, CAN NOT rewrite a State Constitution.

        2. Also. The PA Democrat Party must be seeing internal polls showing that they will be the ones getting beaten down in 2018. Wolf is in worse shape than Corbett was in 2014. They are turning to their lackeys on the Courts to help them fix/steal elections.

          As you said, the Democrats on the PA Supreme Court are likely coordinating/communicating with Tom Wolf so that the Democrat Controlled Supreme Court of PA can GERRYMANDER the State for Democrats.

  5. Both parties have their hypocrites and liars, however most Republicans still believe in the rule of law most of the time (as did most Democrats back in the day). However, the new generation of Democrat jurists from coast to coast acts as if ‘social justice’ trumps written law, judicial precident, etc. The NJ Supreme Court did this in the previous decade when it allowed Lautenberg to replace Corrine when the latter resigned too late to be replaced on the ballot. They simply ignored state law to serve social justice.

  6. Pretty horrible ruling. But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court isn’t the only State Supreme Court which perverts the law and asserts power it doesn’t have.

    I am reminded of a Colorado ruling which upheld the Denver AW ban, despite the RKBA protections of the Colorado Constitution. I believe the ruling essentially said that a law which does not ban ALL guns does not violate the RKBA in the Colorado Constitution.

  7. Conspiracies between litigants and government authorities to game the Courts, is an old and frequent tactic of Democrats and Left-Wing interest groups.

    That tactic was used to kill California Proposition 187 back in the 1990s.

  8. Wow. Pretty blatant.

    If the PA legislature has any balls they’d take decisive action:
    – Zeroize court expenditures for the entire justice system in any municipality where pop exceeds 1M (i.e. Philly), top to bottom. No funding for anything from the magistrates up to the state supreme court.
    – Zeroize state spending for any local jurisdiction exceeding 1M pop (i.e. Philly) whose law enforcement continues to provide security, support or any services for the courts.
    – Funding for prisons reduced 10% every month, with staff furloughs, until reduced to a minimum of 20% or so. Prisoners to be paroled and put on a bus to Philly. Only the worst of violent offenders to remain in custody.
    – State spending for any municipality exceeding 1M pop where courts at any level continue to operate is reduced 10% per week as well.

    All sanctions to be suspended once the court (1) removes the arbitrary deadline and (2) provides an opinion with guidelines to remedy the supposed problem.

    Otherwise, burn the whole justice system down in Philly and let law and order collapse there.

    Before the American revolution the Patriots successfully shut down the administration of British justice in the colonies. It was a very effective tactic to cause the collapse of British influence. This is clearly a separation of powers issue and there’s no reason the legislature should allow another branch to so blatantly ususp their powers. If the courts won’t do their job then the legislature doesn’t need to appropriate them funds.

  9. This:

    … the fix is probably in for him to refuse any redistricting fix the legislature sends him. This was engineered to ensure the Dem Supreme Court would have a free hand in choosing new districts that favor Democrats.

    is where the pitchforks and torches come in. But, since citizens are no longer trained, nor interested in, how such are applied, all can sit back and watch the Superbowl in peace.

    PA is, or probably, has, become one of those states like CA and NY that desperately need to be subdivided; Philadelphia should belong to NJ but is on the wrong side of the river. The Corps of Engineers, with enough time and money, might fix that, but it’d be faster to just buy moving boxes from Lowe’s or Home Depot.

  10. More evidence that the rule of law and the Constitution are dead. We need to quit worrying about whether things are Constitutional and adapt to operating in a post-Constitutional world.

  11. “We need to quit worrying about whether things are Constitutional and adapt to operating in a post-Constitutional world.”

    This is a truly terrifying statement that I have great difficulty disagreeing with. I don’t know wether to be grateful or angry at Richard for delivering the realization.

    1. Just for the record, I hate it too since I regard the Constitution as the best governance system ever devised and regard the rule of law in general as essential for civil peace. However, the evidence must be recognized.

  12. After PA surprisingly went red in 2016 the Democrats vowed never to let that happen again.

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