Home » Pennsylvania Constitution in the News – 2003

Pennsylvania Constitution in the News – 2003

Today, 106 People Across the Nation Will Join . . . Her Wait for an Organ Transplant, But Only 68 Will Receive One, York Daily Record, December 16, 2003, at B1 (2003 WL 61526565): Scot Celley: article discusses the problems of receiving an organ transplant. It also discusses what can be done to ensure more organ donors. The article notes that “There is a current bill in the General Assembly that would give tax breaks to businesses that allow their employees time off to donate organs.” However, State Representative Steven Nickol states that this bill would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution’s uniformity clause.

The Mystic Vapor Can be Discerned Only by Lawyers, The Allentown Morning Call, December 14, 2003 (2003 WL 70886545): Paul Carpenter: article questions the Supreme Court holding that lawyers are exempt from state ethic laws. The author questions where in the Constitution it says that lawyers do not need to follow specific laws but instead, the Supreme Court has exclusive right to regulate lawyers. In response to this article, an individual wrote an opinion article stating that under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Supreme Court has the exclusive authority to regulate the practice of law. (Opinion, Pennsylvania Lawyers have Rules and Regulations, 2003 WL 67665962, The Allentown Morning Call, December 6, 2003.)

Pennsylvania High Court Says School Testing May be Illegal, 12/11/03 DRUGDR 186 (2003 WL 69628166): article discusses the constitutional issues of drug testing in schools and states that the right guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution is more protective of students than the Fourth Amendment.

Judge Allows Ballot Question on Child Testimony, The Allentown Morning Call, November 1, 2003, at A18, (2003 WL 64727505): story of efforts to block vote on constitutional amendment that passed on December 4, 2003, allowing closed circuit television for child sex abuse cases.

We All Pay When Awards are Too High – Reform of Jury Awards, York Daily Record, October 26, 2003, (2003 WL 61524353): letter by two State Senators, Jeff Piccola and Jake Corman, defending proposed Pennsylvania constitutional amendment to allow legislature to limit non-economic damages.

Court Side with Amish in Fight Against Triangles, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, October 23, 2003, at C3 (2003 WL 64508383): Joe Mandak: discusses court ruling allowing small Amish sect to refrain from using orange reflective triangles on their buggies. [Note: same article was also run in the Patriot-News, 2003 WL 3222077.]

Electing Judges: The New Freedom – A Candidate’s Views on Abortion, Torts, 26 The National Law Journal 8: Emily Heller: discusses effect of U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing judicial candidates to discuss their general views on political and legal issues in context of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race.

Fee Caps Challenged in Worker’s Compensation Cases, Fisher Moves to Dismiss Lawyer’s Claim Under Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, 26 PLW 1243, Shannon Duffy: this article discusses the suit filed by Attorney Larry Pitt, alleging that the amendments to Pennsylvania’s Worker’s Compensation Act, that “require approval by a worker’s compensation judge for any lawyer’s fee that exceeds 20 percent of the claimant’s award” is unconstitutional. Attorney Pitt argues that the amendments violate “the Pennsylvania Constitution because they effectively delegate judicial power to the legislative and executive branches.”

Game Official May Not Enter Open Field Marked by Sign, Pennsylvania Constitution Requires Search Warrant Even Though Federal Law Doesn’t, 26 PLW 1037, Michael Riccardi: the Common Pleas Court of Clinton County court determined (in a consolidated appeal under the caption of Commonwealth v. Edwards) that the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, section 8, has a greater protection of private property than guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. The court relied on Article I, section 8, of the Pennsylvania Constitution in determining that a “state game official must first secure a search warrant before entering an open field on private property marked by a ‘no trespassing’ sign”.

Voters to Get Second Look at Child Witness Video Testimony, The Legal Intelligencer, September 16, 2003: Melissa Nann: article discusses proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot November 4, 2003. One amendment changes the wording of Article I, section 9, from “face-to-face” right of confrontation to the right to confront witnesses. The other amendment would grant the Legislature the authority to legislate testimony and deposition by closed circuit television in child sex abuse cases.

Too Many Strikes Against Pennsylvania Gun Laws, Allentown Morning Call, September 7, 2003, at A25, T.J. Rooney: discusses the difficulties, including state constitutional protection of the right to bear arms, in passing gun safety legislation in Pennsylvania.

The Unwinnable Impeachment, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 31, 2003, at B1 (2003 WL 55969383), Professor Ken Gormley: comments on the recent effort to impeach Mayor Tom Murphy.

Editorial, Patriot News, August 26, 2003, at A08: celebrating life of Robert N.C. Nix, Jr., the first African American Justice to Chief Justice in Pennsylvania history, who died over the weekend August 23-24, 2003.

State Aid for Public Transportation Caught in a Time Warp, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 26, 2003, Brian O’Neill: discusses the possibilities of a dedicated public transit revenue source in light of Article VIII, section 11, which limits the uses of gasoline taxes and license and registration fees to “construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of and safety on public highways…and expenses incident thereto… .”

Are We Growing Smarter? A Look At Local Land Use and Environmental Regulation, Legal Intelligencer, April 7, 2003, Samantha Corson: discusses options for local government to regulate land use against background of Article I, section 17, of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Pennsylvania Prison Society v. Schweiker, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, April 7, 2003, Digests of Recent Opinions US District Court: discusses federal court litigation challenging the 1997 amendment to the composition and processes of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Article IV, section 9.

Jubelirer Proposal Alters Vacancy Laws After Catching Fire for Serving Two Branches, Senator Pursues Change, by Martha Raffaele, The Associated Press, (Appearing in May 14, 2003, Ctr. Daily Times 5): article reports on a proposed State constitutional amendment submitted by Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer that would change the way midterm vacancies for Lieutenant Governor are filled.

Proposed Amendment Seeks Damages Cap, Legal Intelligencer, January 29, 2003, Jennifer Batchelor: article discusses in great detail a proposed Pennsylvania constitutional amendment allowing a damages cap. The amendment was introduced by Senator Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senator Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin.

The New Chief Justice: Cappy to Use Power of Persuasion to Rebuild Consensus on High Court, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, January 27, 2003, Christopher M. Lilienthal: Profile of the new Chief Justice Ralph C. Cappy; and Zappala Took State Judiciary Into 21st Century, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, January 20, 2003, Christopher M. Lilienthal: on the occasion of Chief Justice Stephen A. Zappala’s retirement.

DA Studies whether Convictions Bar Udin from Office, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Andrew Conte, January 28, 2003: story reports on fitness of Pittsburgh City Council member to remain in office under Article II, section 7.

Opening Day at the Capitol, New State Legislators Take the Oath of Office, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Johnna A. Pro, January 8, 2003 (2003 WL 3880085): in addition to reporting on the swearing of new members of the Pittsburgh legislative delegation, the story reported that Jake Wheatley had obtained an expungement of his criminal record in Michigan, thereby rendering moot any Article II, Section 7 challenge to his office.