Wayward justices earned impeachment action against them
Twelve Republican state legislators have signed a resolution seeking to impeach four Democratic justices on the state Supreme Court over rulings a congressional redistricting case.
At first blush, that strikes many as over-the-top legislative bullying. And the action drew predictable outrage and criticism from many quarters.
But consider the facts:
• In 2011, Pennsylvania General Assembly, as required by both the state and federal Constitutions, enacted a congressional map to adjust to population changes in the 2010 census.
• The map was approved in a bipartisan vote and was unchallenged when enacted and used in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections.
• Following the 2016 election, challenges to congressional maps were filed in numerous states, including Pennsylvania, in state and federal courts.
• When the state Supreme Court ruled the 2011 map – previously OK with all parties involved – violated the Pennsylvania Constitution, it did so without explaining what constitutional problems there were with the map.
Instead, it gave the General Assembly 18 days to come up with a new one, with no direction until an opinion was released two days prior to the election. So naturally, no adequate map was approved by the Legislature, freeing the court to, in effect, perform executive duties and issue its own map.
Those who want to defend this clearly unconstitutional judicial overreach should think about the precedent being set here for a high court’s politically inspired interference with executive branch duties.
They should ponder whether they really want future political victories based on which party – we thought the courts were supposed to be apolitical – holds the court majority.
This is a dangerous infiltration of our equal branches standard that is supposed to rule the state governments as well as the nation.
It deserves to be called out, especially when there are reasonable alternatives available.
As we have said recently, A wiser ruling would have applied the court’s ruling to a new map that could be used in 2018.
Or, perhaps, a new map should be based on the 2020 census – just two years away – the same way the existing congressional map is based on the 2010 census.
We don’t want to see state Supreme Court justices impeached.
But to the degree this resolution calls attention to how wayward and political the redistricting ruling was, it needed to happen.