Home » Pennsylvania Constitution in the News – 2002

Pennsylvania Constitution in the News – 2002

Greenwood Hopes Bush Will Push Malpractice Reform, Allentown Morning Call, Hal Marcovitz, December 7, 2002: reports on efforts at the federal level to cap medical malpractice awards, aimed in part at superseding state constitutional limits on such caps, including limits in Article I, Section 11, and Article III, Section 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Panel Wants To Open Hearings, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Barbara White Stack, November 21, 2002 (2002 WL 101483869): reports on recommendation to open some child welfare hearings to the public based in part on the Pennsylvania Constitution’s requirement that “all courts shall be open” in Article I, Section 11.

Best’s Insurance News Med-Mal Crisis Adding to Health Insurer Woes, A.M. Best Reports, Best’s Ins. News, October 22, 2002 (2002 WL 23011717) and Here’s judicial activism: Throw out Frivolous Cases, Allentown Morning Call at A7, October 21, 2002 (2002 WL 101909594): articles addressing limits on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases, pointing out that the Pennsylvania Constitution might have to be amended to achieve that result.

Trial Lawyers Oppose Latest Tort Reform S.B. 138 Devised to Limit ‘Venue Shopping’, Legal Intelligencer 1, Laurie Stewart, October 11, 2002: Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association planning to challenge S.B. 138, which limits venue in medical malpractice cases, as a violation of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s rulemaking power.

Winking at Jubelirer’s Maneuvers by Allowing the State Senate President to Serve Also as Lieutenant Governor, the State Supreme Court Abdicates Its Responsibility to the Law, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bruce Ledewitz, October 4, 2002 at A19 (2002 WL 21908241): criticizes per curiam affirmance by Pennsylvania Supreme Court of result in Commonwealth Court allowing Robert Jubelirer to occupy simultaneously posts of Lieutenant Governor, President Pro Tempore of the State Senate and State Senator.

Beware the Charms of Tax Reform, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 8, 2002 at B4 (2002 WL 21900609) and Local Tax Reform: Needed? Yes. Easy? No., The Patriot News, September 4, 2002 (2002 WL 3008017): discuss prospects for tax reform in the context of the constitutional requirement of tax uniformity under Article VIII, Section 1.

Special Influence A Full Court Needs to Reconsider the Lobby Law, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial attacking the Gmerek decision effectively striking down the Lobbying Disclosure Act (2002 WL 21897507). See also 2002 WL 3007054, Patriot News Story reporting the decision itself.

Delco councilman announces resignation. Bruce Rogers cited family and health concerns. He was under attack for a 1970s felony, Philadelphia Inquirer, Steve Esack, August 14, 2002 (2002 WL 24704490): story reporting the resignation of a Darbough Borough councilman who had been ordered removed by a Delaware County Judge because of a 1974 manslaughter conviction. (2002 WL 27404490.) The Judge held that the term “infamous crime” in Article II, Section 7, of the Pennsylvania Constitution includes all felonies.

Open Minds — And Courts Out West, Officials Rethink Closed Custody Hearings, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2002, at A10 (2002 WL 21890113): Editorial raises possibility that the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, Section 11 (“All courts shall be open… .”) prohibits closed child-custody cases.

A Hurdle for Vouchers, State Constitutions Frown on Aiding Church Schools, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 9, 2002, at A16 (2002 WL 21892520): Editorial suggests that vouchers would violate Article III, Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Brush with Law may keep Wheatley out of Pennsylvania House, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mark Belko, May 23, 2002, at A1: Democratic Party primary winner in Pittsburgh may be disqualified from taking seat under Article II, Section 7, because of out-of-state larceny conviction 11 years ago. See also, House Rules A-6, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, John M.R.Bull, May 28, 2002, at B-1 and Editorial: Wheatley may see challenge on floor of house.

At Times, Lawmakers May Be Above the Law, Patriot-News, Pete Shellum, May 12, 2002, at A01 (2002 WL 2994036): discusses how several legislators walked into a bar with drinks in hand and were visibly intoxicated, which was against Pennsylvania law, and how the legislators were not charged. Pursuant to Article II, Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, legislators are immune from arrest. However, they are no longer entirely immune, they can be cited, but not taken into custody.

Township Official Removed Over ’80 Rape Conviction, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mike Bucsko, April 20, 2002, at D3 (2002 WL 3812297): Pennsylvania Constitution required removal of Perry Township Supervisor for 22 year old statutory rape.

Bonds Shouldn’t Support “Corporate Welfare”, Allentown Morning Call, March 20, 2001, at A22 (2002 WL 4303595): opinion addressing the use of public funds to build roads in a private development as corporate welfare prohibited by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Inside the Capital, Patriot-News, March 7, 2002, at B05 (2002 WL 2986273): discusses how 75 House members oppose what they see as meddling by the judicial branch, are pushing bills designed to stop the state Supreme Court from suspending acts of the Legislature it believes conflicts with court rules.

Vouchers are Constitutional, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Ronald T. Bowes, March 4, 2002, at A8 (2002 WL 3799627): editorial arguing that school vouchers are constitutional.

Advocate: Similar to Position for Consumers, Officers Would Help Fulfill Constitution, Patriot-News, March 1, 2002, at A10 (2002 WL 2985518): editorial advocating the creation of an Office of Environmental Advocate which would operate within the Attorney General’s office as the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees clean air, pure water, etc.

Growing Greener Treated Shabbily, Patriot-News, Jan Jarrett, January 30, 2002, at A11 (2002 WL 2981739): discusses how because of a $622 million state budget deficit, the program of Growing Greener, which maintains parks, repairs sewers and gas wells, was cut by Governor Mark Schweiker. Argues that protecting the environment, a requirement under the Pennsylvania Constitution, shouldn’t have depended on the good wishes of a Governor.

House Approves Videotape Testimony; Constitutional Amendment Aimed at Protecting Children; 2 More Votes Await, Patriot-News, Charles Thompson, January 24, 2002, at B01 (2002 WL 2981044): discusses how the state House of Representatives voted 190-3 on January 23, 2002, to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution so that, in situations where a trial judge approves, a child victim or witness could testify by remote means.

Elections**Real Grievance of Greens, etc. Should Be Ballot Access Laws, Allentown Morning Call at A8 (2002 WL 4296054): criticizes ballot access provisions of current law even though Article I, section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states that “Elections shall be free and equal”. Discusses how the Pennsylvania Green Party objects to its candidate for Governor, Michael Morrill, being excluded from a candidate debate and how signature requirements for nominating petitions differ between Democrat and Republican and minor party candidates.

State Pension Irreversible, Lawyer Says; Case Law Indicates Legislators Can’t Lower Retirement Benefit, Patriot-News, Ellen Lyon, January 13, 2002, at B07 (2002 WL 2979554): discusses how state lawmakers voted themselves an increase in their pension plans which cannot now be reversed. Barry Kaufmann, executive director of Common Cause of Pennsylvania, has also challenged the constitutionality of the pensions under Article II, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

In Groups of 10, They Fight for Thousands, Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer J., Jeff Hawkes, January 11, 2002, at B1 (2002 WL 7536239): discusses how the Good Schools Pennsylvania groups intend to organize and push Pennsylvania government to balance funds between rich and poor school districts. Argues that the Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that the General Assembly provide a thorough and efficient system of education, which they are not providing.

No Man’s Land, With School Takeover in Jeopardy, Legislature must Re-enter the Fray, The Harrisburg Patriot, January 4, 2002, at A10 (2002 WL 2978587): editorial seeks legislative remedy to Commonwealth Court decision striking down state intervention in Harrisburg School District.

Officials Work on Holiday; Constitution Requires Legislators to be in Session on 1st Tuesday, The Harrisburg Patriot, January 2, 2002, at B01 (2002 WL 2978340): notes effect of Article II, Section 4 requiring meeting of the General Assembly on “the first Tuesday of January,” which this year meant New Year’s Day.

Jubelirer’s jubilee, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bruce Ledewitz, January 16, 2002, at A11 (2002 WL 3787885): analyzes Commonwealth Court opinion allowing Robert Jubelirer to serve simultaneously as State Senate President pro tempore and Lieutenant Governor.

Board Asked Discipline for Justices Tirade, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mike Bucsko, December 21, 2001, at C3 (2001 WL 28683483): discusses how the State Court of Judicial Discipline concluded that Oakmont District Justice Richard Zoller violated judicial ethics and should be disciplined for a profanity-laden tirade during a hearing last year.

Succession Question Requires Amendment, Patriot-News, Randy Lee, December 19, 2001, at A3 (2001 WL 31858557): editorial recommending that an amendment be made to the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide for the selection of Lieutenant Governor by the Governor in case of a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor.

Pennsylvania: Rebate Act Upheld, 12/10/01 St. Tax Rev. 15 (2001 WL 8934080): discusses how the Homeowners’ Century Tax Rebate Act did not violate the Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution by authorizing rebates to homeowners but not to non-owner-occupied residential property or to owners of business property.

Would Sunday Add Punch to Voter Turnout?, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brian O’Neill, November 26, 2001, at A11 (2001 WL 28676408): discusses how an Internet survey revealed that voter turnout is low due to the difficulties of getting to the polls on Tuesdays and how the Pennsylvania requires the elections to be held on Tuesdays.

Better Way Exists to Pick State Judges, Patriot News, Lynn Marks, November 13, 2001, at A09 (2001 WL 28676408): endorses merit selection of judges.