Monday, September 21, 2015

What next for PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane?

The Commonwealth Attorneys Act says only a licensed member of the bar can be attorney general, according to Bruce Ledewitz, a professor at Duquesne University School of Law with expertise in the Pennsylvania Constitution and court rules, reported the Allentown Morning Call.
A suspension is not a disbarment. Suspension would mean Kane at least temporarily could not practice law, but she would remain a lawyer, Ledewitz has said. Still, a suspension could be fatal to Kane's career because it could lead to one of three ways the state constitution says an elected official can be removed from office.
The first is legislative impeachment. The process, which is long and cumbersome, starts in the House and, following a quasi-trial, two-thirds of the 50-member Senate must vote to impeach.
The Republican-controlled Legislature has not seemed enthusiastic about getting involved in Kane's legal wranglings except to call for her to resign.
The third removal option involves the governor and Senate. It is called "direct address" — and it has never been used in Pennsylvania.
The amendment says all elected civil officers, with the exception of the governor, lieutenant governor, lawmakers and judges, "shall be removed by the governor for reasonable cause" after they are given due process notice and the Senate affirms the governor's wishes on a two-thirds majority vote.
There is legal debate in the state about whether the "direct address" starts first with the governor or the Senate. The administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Senate believe the removal process starts in the Senate. However, other law experts think Wolf would have to initiate the process.
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