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2023

Article I, Section 27:

Twp. Of Marple v. Pennsylvania Pub. Util. Comm’n, 2023 WL 2421090 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2023) (Mar. 9, 2023), per Ceisler, J., the Commonwealth Court reversed an order by the Public Utility Commission, stating that the Commission is obligated to consider the environmental impact of planned building sites. The Commission erred by determining that it lacked the power to evaluate environmental impact when considering the reasonable necessity of a proposed public utility facility, and it was required to make that evaluation under Article I, Section 27 of the state constitution. To the extent that relevant statutes do not permit the Commission to consider environmental impact, those statutes are constitutionally invalid.

Article II, Section 2:

Cutler v. Chapman, 2023 WL 383014 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. 2023) (Jan. 25, 2023), per Wojcik, J., the Commonwealth Court concluded that it would not issue a preliminary injunction affecting scheduling of the 2023 special elections for the state House of Representatives. Because the parties had all raised viable arguments as to who should be considered Majority Leader of the House and whether the question is justiciable, there is no clear right to relief by the courts. Additionally, delaying the elections unnecessarily would disrupt ongoing preparations and deny representation for an undue length of time, causing greater harm to the public interest than allowing a potentially improper or unconstitutionally scheduled election to proceed. The dismissal of the request for injunction in a prior order on January 13, 2023 was confirmed, though the court agreed to hear objections by intervening parties at a later date.

Article VI, Section 6:

Krasner v. Ward, 2023 WL 164777 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2023) (Jan. 12, 2023), per Ceisler, J., a plurality of the Commonwealth Court concluded that the articles of impeachment issued against District Attorney Krasner do not comply with the requirements for impeachment proposed in the Pennsylvania Constitution. The constitutional amendment stating that “misbehavior in office” may be grounds for impeachment was passed in 1966, at which time “misbehavior in office” was a common law crime requiring the breach of a positive statutory duty or performance of a discretionary act with an improper or corrupt motive. Because the articles of impeachment pertain to discretionary decisions without allegations of impure motive, they do not create a constitutionally sound basis for impeachment or removal of the District Attorney. In a concurrence, Judge Wojcik withdrew a portion of his support for the original order. [This opinion follows a December 30, 2022 order by the Commonwealth Court declaring that the articles of impeachment are unconstitutional.]