Contact Information 

District Offices
Tiadaghton Valley Mall
Room 105
701 Allegheny Street, Box 4
Jersey Shore, PA 17740
(570) 398-4476

Closed for lunch: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Penn Hills Plaza, Halls Station
21 Kristi Road
Suite 1
Muncy, PA 17756
(570) 546-2084

Closed for lunch: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Capitol Office
Hon. Garth Everett
401 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202084
Harrisburg PA 17120-2084
(717) 787-5270
Fax: (717) 772-9958

E-Mail:  
geverett@pahousegop.com

Why Would Lawmakers Consider Impeachment of Justices?
4/2/2018
While many assume politics is at the heart of the recent proposal to impeach a number of our state Supreme Court justices, I assure you it is not about politics – it is about our state constitution and the system of checks and balances that is the underpinning of both our state and federal governments. Let me explain why each of us should be concerned with the actions taken by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the process that produced the new Pennsylvania congressional district map to be used in the 2018 election.

In 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly, in accordance with and as required by the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions and Pennsylvania statutes, enacted a congressional map to adjust for population changes in the 2010 census. This map was passed in a bipartisan vote and was supported by both parties in the state congressional delegation at the time. This map was unchallenged when enacted and used in our 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections.

Following the 2016 election, challenges to congressional maps were filed in numerous states, including Pennsylvania, in both state and federal courts. While the federal court upheld our map as meeting the standards of the U.S. Constitution, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court went where no court has gone before, ruling that the 2011 map violated our state constitution. It then went a step further, demanding a new map be drawn in just 18 days, or the court would draw its own.

Generally, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has within its authority to rule that some action of the General Assembly, like drawing the congressional map, is unconstitutional. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not have the authority to usurp the General Assembly when it comes to drawing and implementing our congressional district map. That is a duty granted to the legislature by both the federal and state constitutions and in state statutes.

The simple fact is that in this instance the court went beyond its “job” of interpreting and determining the constitutionality of the laws passed by the General Assembly and took it upon itself to assume a function reserved to legislature.

Now you may say, “Well the old map was gerrymandered in favor of one party and the map drawn by the court is more ‘fair’ and will result in a better outcome for voters.” We will set aside what constitutes a “fair” map for another discussion and get back to the process by which this “new” map was put in place.

When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the 2011 map violated the Pennsylvania Constitution, it should have issued an order and opinion to the General Assembly explaining the constitutional problems it found with the existing map and establishing a reasonable timeline for the new map to be enacted in accordance with state law. Instead, we were given just 18 days and no direction by the court until it issued a 138-page opinion just two days before the deadline it imposed.

In essence, the court engineered a situation where a new map could not be done by the General Assembly in accordance with state law and then “enacted” its own map – a purely legislative function. In doing so, the court clearly exceeded its constitutional authority and, in fact, acted unconstitutionally itself.

In both federal and state governments, we have a system of “checks and balances” designed by our founders to ensure that none of our three branches of government -- the executive, legislative and judicial -- become too powerful and usurp the constitutional power granted to them. This “three-legged stool” makes the United States unique, and for more than 200 years has ensured that no president or governor, legislature or court exceeded its constitutional authority.

That all changed when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court enacted its own map. The court has knocked that “three-legged stool” out of balance and the General Assembly is now considering what might be done to re-establish this balance. One of the options available to the General Assembly is to hold impeachment hearings to determine if the Supreme Court’s unconstitutional action rises to the level of a trial in the Senate to consider the removal of some of the justices. Examining the actions of our justices is absolutely within the constitutional authority of the General Assembly and, arguably, required in this instance by our checks and balances system.

The moral of the story here is two-fold – constitutional process matters and the ends do not justify the means. In the long run, the court’s violation of the constitution to do its own gerrymandering of congressional districts will set a precedent that will haunt Pennsylvania government for many years.

Representative Garth D. Everett
84th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Raymond Smith
717.705.1834
rsmith@pahousegop.com
RepEverett.com / Facebook.com/RepEverett



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