Articles Posted in Pennsylvania Supreme Court

by
Petitioners claimed that Article V, Section 16(b) of the state charter was unconstitutional. They argued that section 16(b) deprived them of their inherent right to be free of age-based discrimination, particularly because the section mandates that jurists retire the year they turn 70 years old. In prior decisions, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that Article V, Section 16(b) was not so irrational as to be considered unconstitutional. The Court denied petitioners' application for relief and dismissed the case with prejudice. View "Friedman v. Corbett" on Justia Law

by
This case was a direct appeal from a Commonwealth Court order which set aside the nomination petition of Andrew Gales as a Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania State Representative in the 57th Legislative District. On April 4, 2012, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the Commonwealth Court, directed that the candidate’s name be printed on the April 24, 2012 primary election ballot, and indicated that an opinion would follow. The Court released its rationale for that order, and held that the Election Code does not prohibit an elector from signing a nomination petition using an obvious diminutive form of his or her first name, rather than the formal first name that appears on the elector’s voter registration card. View "In re Nomination Petition of Andrew Gales" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court addressed an Application for Relief in an Election Code matter, over which it retained limited jurisdiction following a remand on October 4, 2010. The issue involved the effect of the District Court's decision in "Morrill v. Weaver," (224 F.Supp.2d 882 (E.D. Pa. 2002)). In "Morrill," Section 2911(d) of the Election Code (25 P.S. 2600 et seq.), which the federal court construed as imposing a district residency requirement for affiants circulating nomination papers violated the First Amendment. The district court permanently enjoined the Commonwealth from enforcing the statutory provision, and the Commonwealth did not appeal that decision. The question of the constitutionality of Section 2911(d) and the effect of Morrill arose in connection with a challenge to the nomination paper submitted by Carl Stevenson as an independent candidate for the office of State Representative in Pennsylvania’s 134th Legislative District in the 2010 general election. Michael Gibson and Robert Mader filed a petition to set aside in the Commonwealth Court, raising both signature challenges and a global challenge to Stevenson’s nomination paper. The objectors' global challenge alleged that signatures on three pages of the nomination paper were invalid because the circulator of those pages resided outside the 134th Legislative District, in supposed violation of Section 2911(d). Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth and the Secretary are bound by the district court decision in "Morrill" and may not enforce Section 2911(d) as written. View "In Re: Nomination Petitions and Papers of Carl Stevenson" on Justia Law

by
In twelve separate matters, Commonwealth citizens, acting singly or in groups, filed appeals from the Final Plan for legislative redistricting of the Commonwealth, which was devised by Appellee 2011 Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission (the "LRC"), in response to the U.S. decennial census. Fourteen days after the appeals were filed, seven days after the matters were briefed, and two days after the appeals were argued, the Supreme Court issued its mandate in a per curiam order filed January 25, 2012. That order declared that the Final Plan was contrary to law under Article II, Section 17(d) of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and with the directive in that constitutional provision, the Court remanded the matter to the LRC to reapportion the Commonwealth in a manner consistent with this opinion. View "Holt v. 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
In the 1990s, Appellee Stephen Rambler mailed letters in an attempt to extort money from approximately thirty individuals by threatening to reveal certain sexually explicit correspondence if they did not pay him. Based on this conduct, Appellee was charged with violating federal law by mailing "threatening communications." Nearly ten years later, in November 2005, Appellee was elected mayor of Wrightsville, York County. He assumed office in January 2006. Two months later, the Commonwealth filed a complaint in quo warranto seeking to remove Appellee from office pursuant to Article II, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Commonwealth alleged that the federal offense constituted an "infamous crime" in Pennsylvania, and requested an order declaring Appellee unqualified for his mayoral office. The common pleas court ultimately issued an opinion and order in favor of the Commonwealth, removing Appellee from office, and disqualifying him from holding any office of trust or profit in Pennsylvania. Appellee appealed, claiming that his federal extortion conviction did not qualify as an infamous crime because his conviction only carried a maximum sentence of two years which is comparable to a misdemeanor sentence in state court. The Superior Court reversed. The Supreme Court found in its review that "Appellee sought to reap dishonest gain… This type of behavior is, quite obviously, 'inconsistent with commonly accepted principles of honesty and decency,' and is, moreover, akin to 'swindling, cheating, and other crimes of a kindred nature.'" The Court reversed the Superior Court and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Pennsylvania v. Rambler" on Justia Law