Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lots of things rotten in the state of Pennsylvania

OK, this is going to be a long post. I have to give you a fair bit of background before getting into the current situation.

Back on July 7. 2005, the PA General Assembly unconstitutionally gave itself a huge pay raise in a secret late-night vote....

The state Supreme Court immediately ruled that the pay raise was legal. Luckily, this didn't go unnoticed and sparked incredible outrage among the populace. Many legislators stuck wet fingers into the air and decided that they couldn't accept such an unconstitutional raise (even though they'd voted for it) and pledged to give it back. That didn't save them. In the next election one sitting Supreme Court justice was denied retention (here in PA each judge must stand for a retention election after 10 years in office) and the other up for retention only got 52% of the vote (the average heretofore was about 70%) and subsequently resigned. 55 state legislators lost their seats, 24 by electoral defeat or disqualification, and 31 who chose to retire rather than face the voters.

We haven't forgotten and legislators in the upcoming election will be looked at very carefully. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the "payjacking" scandal has since retired.

Now we get to the meat of the current situation. On May 19 the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against Ralph Cappy, the former Chief Justice of the PA Supreme Court. It alleges that Cappy made a secret deal to rule in favor of a slot machine law in return for pay raises for himself and other judges. The league was a plaintiff in the slots-law challenge that the court rejected. It says such a deal (or if there wasn't a deal, the fact that many legislators believed there was one) violated its due-process rights in the slots case. The suit also mentions Ronald Castille, Cappy's successor as Chief Justice.

Castille called the suit slanderous and said the league could face sanctions and its attorney, Paul Rossi, disciplinary action under federal court rules for making baseless charges about the Supreme Court. The league said Castille would violate the organization’s right to petition government under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution if he carries out a sanctions threat.

I neither know nor care what Castille's political allegiances are. This man has brought dishonor on the courts by his intimidation attempts and threats of retribution against an attorney following the rules and representing his client properly. If we had a General Assembly that could be trusted, he should be immediately impeached and removed from office. However, the leadership of the General Assembly is implicated in the collusion described in this lawsuit itself. Will we ever see honest government in PA? Perhaps it's time for the federal government to remove the Commonwealth government under Article IV, Section 4 of the US Constitution, which guarantees to every state a republican form of government. We certainly don't have one now in PA.

I've asked a lawyer acquaintance of mine who has argued cases before the US Supreme Court what it would take to seek relief under this portion of the Constitution. He said that it hadn't been considered enforceable for a very long time, but that he had cited that section recently in some of his arguments. He thought that there wasn't a very great chance of success in that sort of argument but that it might be worth trying if nothing else worked.

I've also talked to a few people about trying to get a RICO prosecution against the PA Supreme Court. I don't know what that would take either, but it seems worth investigating.

I'd welcome any ideas folks have. I get the feeling that things may get a good deal worse before they get better.
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full post.]


  1. If it can be shown that any of the PASC justices were selling their votes on cases that come before them, that would be grounds for their impeachment. Perhaps the new members of the legislature would be interested in pursuing that course.

  2. I would hope this would be the case, Monster, but past experience doesn't raise a lot of hope.

  3. If the new legislators won't impeach the justices, maybe you'll need to elect some new new legislators. Keep at it until they do the right thing, and let them know you'll be watching the new new legislators, and you can get some new new new legislators if need be.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  4. That's in process. The difficulty is keeping the populace focused until we get the Augean Stables mucked out...


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