Home » Pennsylvania Constitution in the News – 2001

Pennsylvania Constitution in the News – 2001

Ruling Stings Bolus, The Scranton Times, Krawczeniuk, October 25, 2001, Page 1,: reports on the reaction in Scranton to the ruling by the Commonwealth Court that Republican Mayoral candidate Bob Bolus is barred by Article I, Section 7 of the State Constitution from holding public office. According to the story, Mr. Bolus is taking the position that he can still be elected Mayor in the November election, as long as the case is still “open” –that is, pending appeal.

FOP Sues City Over Residency Rule, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Fuoco, Michael A., October 12, 2001, at B4 (2201 WL 28663890): Union representing Pittsburgh’s police officers filed a civil complaint that seeks to strike down a law requiring them to live within the city. The lawsuit asks the court to declare unconstitutional, under both the federal and state constitutional “equal protection” provisions, the section in the Second Class City Code that contains the residency requirement.

Transition Questions, Possibilities; Scholars Skeptical of Jubelirer’s Two Roles, Patriot-News, Lyon, Ellen, September 28, 2001 at B01 (2001 WL 2714976): discusses how Senator Robert Jubelirer’s becoming Lieutenant Governor may cause continued problems since he intends to remain as Senate President pro tempore and run for re-election next year as Senator. The question is whether the Pennsylvania Constitution allows the new Lieutenant Governor to remain Senate President pro tempore. Article IV, section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that the President pro tempore shall become Lieutenant Governor when that office becomes vacant. See also Jubelirer Brings Experience to Job, Patriot-News, Lyon, Ellen, at B01 (2002 WL 2715268): discusses how constitutional scholars are split over whether a dual Lieutenant Governor/Senate President pro tempore would survive a court challenge.

See also Letter to Jubelirer Stirs Pot; Local Lawmakers Condemn Action, Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer J./Sunday News, Quinn, Justin, at B1 (2001 WL 9309161): a letter sent by the Commonwealth Caucus to Lt. Governor Robert Jubelirer addressed Jubelirer’s refusal to relinquish his Senate Seat as unconstitutional.

Immature Secrecy Open Justice is in Children’s Best Interests, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at B2 (2001 WL 28659845): discusses how the Pennsylvania Constitution (Article I, section 11) provides for open courts and how closed court hearings in the juvenile court system are fundamentally inconsistent with democracy. The juvenile justice system has begun to admit the press or public to abuse and neglect cases. The Post-Gazette is currently challenging closed juvenile courts in the case of John and Annette Bright of Westmoreland County.

Why is a Judge on the Reapportionment Commission, Lancaster News Era/Intelligencer J./Sunday News, August 23, 2001, at A10 (2001 WL 9303698): discusses how the Pennsylvania Constitution specifies four of the five members of the Legislative Apportionment Committee and that no federal or state official holding an office to which compensation is attached can sit as chairman of the Legislative Reapportionment Committee. This letter to the editor challenges as insufficient the action by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court revoking Judge Frank Montemuro’s assignment as senior judge on Superior Court.

Let’s Pretend the Registries Are Not Illegal, Allentown Morning Call, Carpenter, Paul, August 18, 2001, at B1(2001 WL 23156506): discusses registry of weapons owned by private citizens and how the Pennsylvania Constitution’s right to bear arms provision is more explicit than the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Lost In Cyberspace, Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer J./Sunday News, Gibble, Dr. Jacques, August 19, 2001, at P1(2001 WL 9303037): argues that for-profit charter schools may be violative of Art. III of the Pennsylvania Constitution because the General Assembly cannot delegate any municipal function, like education, to any private corporation.

Inside the Capital, Patriot-News, August 14, 2001, at B05 (2001 WL 2709113): discusses how Rep. Tom Gannon, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is proposing a measure which would require amending the Pennsylvania Constitution; Gannon wants to require district justice hopefuls to pass an exam before they can run for office if they are not members of the bar of the Supreme Court.

Can a Convicted Felon Serve on SEPTA Board? Philadelphia Daily News, Brennan, Chris, July 6, 2001 at 16: discusses whether Bob Asher, a former GOP state chairman who along with former state Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, was convicted in 1986 of mail fraud, perjury and conspiracy to commit bribery, will take a seat as a representative from Montgomery County on SEPTA’s board. Art. II, section 7, of the Pennsylvania Constitution says, “No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime, shall be eligible to the General Assembly, or capable of holding any office of trust in this Commonwealth.”

Midnight Run, Roddey’s Redistricting Idea is Sound, Unlike His Tactics, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 27, 2001 at A18: discusses how Roddey’s plan to appoint a five-member commission to redraw County Council districts is similar to the method set forth in the Pennsylvania Constitution.

OUR OPINION Gag Orders Bigger Threat Than Media, York Daily Record, Stankewicz, William Michael, June 18, 2001 at A06: argues that judicial gag orders violate the Pennsylvania Constitution, particularly open courts provision, Art. I, section 11.

Heroic Staff Honored An Emotional Year Ends at North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School, York Wkly. Rec., Baier, Linda W., at A05: discusses how the Pennsylvania Senate passed proposed constitutional amendments that would allow child victims to testify by videotape or closed-circuit television.

Judge Won’t Dismiss Charges on Assault on Pregnant Woman ** Allentown Suspect’s Lawyer Can’t Show Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act is Not Constitutional, Allentown Morning Call, Garlicki, Debbie, June 13, 2001 at B3: discusses how a Lehigh County judge upheld the constitutionality of the state’s Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act in a case of an Allentown woman charged with assaulting a woman who was 9 months pregnant.

LOCAL BRIEFS, York Daily Record, June 12, 2001 at B01: discusses State Senate action passing proposed constitutional amendment allowing closed circuit TV testimony for child victims. A previous attempt to provide such an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution was struck down in Bergdoll v. Kane (Pa., June 15, 1999).

Judge Extends Assessment Appeal Period, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Belko, Mark, April 5, 2001, at B3: discusses how appeal deadline has been extended and that a judge ruled that the section of the county’s administrative code fixing the yearly appeals deadline at March 31 “does not violate the Pennsylvania Constitution, any state statute or the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter”.

Gun Plan Violates Rights, Patriot-News, March 17, 2001 at A11: discusses how State Attorney General Mike Fisher wants to make carrying a gun on school property a felony. Argues that this would be a direct violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

8 Couples Sue County Over Adoption Fee, Hope to Get Refunds, Have Law Declared Unconstitutional, Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer J., Murse, Tom, March 15, 2001 at B1: couples who adopted children and paid adoption fee of $75 to Lancaster County challenge constitutionality of law and demand refunds. Money was to be used for counseling services for biological mothers and fathers who have decided to put their children up for adoption, but no money has ever been used for this purpose. (Challenging constitutionality on the ground that the fee is a taking without just compensation and because the fee is “grossly disproportionate to the cost it is intended to defray” under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Intervening Legislature Has a Precedent, Allentown Morning Call, Cattabiani, Mario F., December 1, 2000 at A8: discusses how Pennsylvania would handle the problems that Florida has faced during the Presidential race. (The question raised was whether the Legislature can legally assign electors in a race that hasn’t been clearly decided. There is a precedent from the 1800 where the Pennsylvania General Assembly met in a special session and appointed electors on its own. Article 7, Section of the Pennsylvania Constitution makes clear that state courts shall rule in cases of contested presidential elections. However, the Pennsylvania Constitution is silent as to whether the Legislature can step in and assign electors to meet the federal deadline.