One day after a dozen Republican legislators signed on to proposed legislation to impeach Democratic justices on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Chief Justice Thomas Saylor issued a statement calling their effort “an attack upon an independent judiciary.
,” reported The Legal Intelligencer.
“As Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, I am very concerned by the reported filing of impeachment resolutions against Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania related to the Court’s decision about congressional redistricting,” Saylor said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “Threats of impeachment directed against Justices because of their decision in a particular case are an attack upon an independent judiciary, which is an essential component of our constitutional plan of government.”
The statement came after 11 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representativessigned on to co-sponsor four pieces of legislation that by Rep. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, proposed last month. The proposals seek the impeachment of Justices Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, Debra Todd, and David Wecht. A fifth piece of legislation calling for the impeachment of of Justice Max Baer has not yet received any support. All five of those justices were elected as Democrats.
Dush’s proposals claim the justices engaged in “misbehavior in office,” and were filed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to replace the 2011 congressional map after determining that it had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
The court scrapped the map in January on a 5-2 vote, with all five of the justices elected as
The comments from Saylor, who was elected as a Republican, mark the first time the chief justice has spoken out about the issue. During budget hearings before lawmakers in February, Baer, the second justice in seniority, defended the court’s decisions.
Political experts recently told The Legal it is unlikely Dush will be able to amass sufficient political support to pass any impeachment resolutions. However, they also noted that Republicans have a clear majority in the House, and, with 16 Democrats to 34 Senate Republicans, the GOP has more than the two-thirds majority needed to remove the justices.
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