PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It is the highest court in the Commonwealth and rarely do the justices ever give interviews.
However, the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently sat down with KDKA-TV’s Stacy Smith.
Chief Justice Ron Castille talked about a range of issues, including one that he is sure will be coming before his court – same-sex marriage.
“I always tell people, you can bring anything you want. You can bring a lawsuit anytime you want over anything, but the question is, can you win?” Castille said.
What Chief Justice Castille knows, is there has already been a winner of sorts on the federal level.
The United States Supreme Court has struck down part of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“A lot of times, we’ll take our lead from what the U.S. Supreme Court does, but we’re not bound by that. So, the case will be before us and we’ll give it due consideration,” he said.
Castille also said that if federal courts rule Pennsylvania’s law on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, the state would be bound by that decision.
Smith also asked the Castille about corruption and misconduct in the judicial system.
Already, two Luzerne County judges are serving lengthy federal prison terms.
There is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who is the subject of an FBI and Grand Jury investigation.
Also of high notoriety, is the case of another of his fellow Supreme Court justices.
“Joan Orie Melvin was doing things she wasn’t supposed to do, and somebody took it to the appropriate authorities and a jury convicted her and a judge has sentenced her,” Castille said. “None of us in this system is above the law or the code of conduct that applies to judges, and that’s an example.”
Castille is running for retention in November’s election. If he is retained, by law, he can serve for only one more year, until he is 70.
He was elected to the court as a Republican, but he said that doesn’t mean he always sides with Republicans.
“The voter ID case, I voted in a shocking way to the Republicans, the same thing with the reapportionment.” Castille said.
From the first time he was elected to the High Court in 1993, Castille wanted to stop having justices elected to it.
“This is not the way we should be selecting judges. It should be on the appointment system after a thorough review of their background, make sure who they are and what they’ve done in the past, and then let it be on a merit appointment system,” Castille said.
One other issue they discussed was cameras in the courtroom.
As it stands right now, they are allowed in the Supreme Court and appellate courts, but Castille does not believe they should be allowed in the trial courts.