Pennsylvania Chief Justice Slams GOP Lawmaker’s Impeachment Move against Democratic Justices

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The Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court condemned the impeachment resolutions against four Democratic Justices by a Republican lawmaker.

The four Justices made the decision to implement a remedial congressional map in time for the May 15 primary election. The Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania to block the map. Both federal courts denied their request.

A day after the federal courts’ ruling, Republican Representative Cris Dush introduced impeachment resolutions against Supreme Court Justices Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, Debra Todd and David Wecht. According to Rep. Dush, the four justices violated the Constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States.

Early in February, Rep. Dush announced his plan to impeach the justices. He argued that the justices “engaged in misbehavior of office” and “guilty of impeachable offense.”

Threats of impeachment are attack upon an independent judiciary

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor, a Republican, issued a statement against the impeachment move. According to him, “I am very concerned by the reported filing of impeachment resolutions against Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania…”

In addition, Chief Justice Saylor, said, “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.”

In a post on Facebook, Rep. Dush argued that the impeachment move is “not a gerrymandering issue.” It is about “an unconstitutional theft of power.”

In a statement late Thursday, House Majority Leader Dave Reed reiterated his belief that the “state Supreme Court’s decision to draw and implement a congressional redistricting map is wrong.” However, he also believes that any “disagreement over the outcome of any particular case should not be grounds for impeachment.”

On the other hand, Neal Lesher, the spokesman for  House Speaker Mike Turzai, said some Republicans want to initiate impeachment.

In addition, Leshner said they “need to review the evidence” against the justices. They also need to find out if all of the House leaders and a majority of members want to pursue the remedy. According to him, “It is not a decision to be taken lightly…”