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Very Good News

Preemption in Pennsylvania is safe for now. But don’t take it for granted. They are attacking preemption everywhere, and they aren’t going to stop here.

Be sure to vote next week on November 5th. Especially if you’re in Virginia.

9 Responses to “Very Good News”

  1. Andy B. says:

    I hate to start out sounding negative, but I don’t see a decision in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County as exactly making “preemption safe for now.” At least, anywhere except in Allegheny County, and only in cases conforming to the specific example case in question.

    As usual I will explain that in light to one of my own Old Stories: In 1964 I was successful with a similar preemption case in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, and my success was based on a state Supreme Court decision the previous year. Mine was a case involving hunting (Middletown Township writing its own hunting ordinances) but the preemption principle was the same. But, the municipalities of Bucks County have continued to spot-enforce nearly identical ordinances for the 55+ years since. That included Northampton Township, which took a case all the way to the state Supreme Court again, and lost, roughly 20 years after my case.

    There is no downside for local officials promulgating blatantly illegal/unconstitutional ordinances, if those ordinances are going to be locally popular. My case 55 years ago was born from “development” and an influx of new NIMBY folks from other places. Township supervisors had not a thing to lose, politically, by discouraging hunting.

    I know I’m biased by my experiences from the gun/hunting rights angles, but the desirability of “preemption” of lawmaking powers for most things, by the state, seems so obvious to me that I suspect those who wish to eliminate it for specific issues, will someday regret the precedents they are establishing, for other issues in the future; e.g., if they find themselves trapped by bizarre and predatory local traffic laws.

  2. Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

    Not surprising. Even the knuckleheads in Pittsburgh knew this is how it would end up. Hell they couldn’t even get another municipality to join them.

    • Andy B. says:

      “Even the knuckleheads in Pittsburgh knew this is how it would end up.”

      Knuckleheads? On balance, they knew that with their Pittsburgh constituency they would be wildly popular and even regarded as victims, when what they knew was inevitable happened. Not necessarily so stupid when your enemies have no choice except to campaign for you!

      My advice is, stop thinking that “law” applies to public officials, the way it applies to you and me. More often than no violating the law is the smartest thing they can do.

      (It occurs to me that it was the preemption issue that first taught me that, lo, decades ago.

    • Andy B. says:

      “Even the knuckleheads in Pittsburgh knew this is how it would end up.”

      Knuckleheads? On balance, they knew that with their Pittsburgh constituency they would be wildly popular, and even regarded as victims, when what they knew was inevitable happened. Not necessarily so stupid when your enemies have no choice except to campaign for you!

      My advice is, stop thinking that “law” applies to public officials, the way it applies to you and me. More often than not violating the law is the smartest thing they can do.

      (It occurs to me that it was the preemption issue that first taught me that, lo, decades ago.)

      • Andy B. says:

        “they knew that with their Pittsburgh constituency they would be wildly popular, and even regarded as victims, when what they knew was inevitable happened.”

        I thought of a better example, from the other end of the political spectrum: When Lou Barletta violated federal preemption of legislation involving immigration while he was mayor of Hazleton, and his constituency loved him for it. It was probably federal courts condemning what he did that got him elected to congress. You can’t tell me that wasn’t exactly what he had his eye on happening, from the first day he promulgated clearly unconstitutional local ordinances.

    • Sebastian says:

      But they made us spend money to achieve the result. Sometimes it’s a matter of wearing the other side out.

      • Andy B. says:

        I have realized for decades that the real problem is that public officials never have to suffer personally for what they do. “Taking personal responsibility for…” is an empty phrase if there ever was one.

        In the Barletta example I cited, the municipality of Hazleton was required to pay $1.4 million in legal expenses to the ACLU, for something that Barletta had been responsible for. I believe Hazleton became a “financially distressed city” as a result. Barletta himself laughed all the way to congress. Then I’m sure the voters of Hazleton blamed the ACLU, not Barletta.

        It’s appropriate that the people be held partly responsible for the crimes of the “representatives” they vote for, but not appropriate that those representatives themselves profit from it. That it is almost always the case shows that “representative government” is just the “Divine Right of Kings” set to nobler music.

  3. Richard says:

    I’m glad it was struck down but there need to be personal, criminal consequences for the politicians. Violation of civil rights under color of law is a crime. Obviously, the Pittsburgh DA is not going to bring charges under whatever the PA equivalent of this is so the Federal government needs to. If only we had a Justice Department.

  4. Andy B. says:

    “there need to be personal, criminal consequences for the politicians.”

    Agreed, but I’d settle for economic responsibility (i.e., “civil”) given that too many criminal convictions end with a slap on the wrist that doesn’t even include serious economic consequences.

    Just to clarify some meaning, with my Barletta example, obviously he couldn’t pass ordinances by himself as mayor, but, the council people or whoever who voted for the unconstitutional ordinances should be considered liable for the resulting costs. The “representatives” who incur an expense should be held responsible along with whatever chief executive signs off on the legislation.

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