PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If certain Republican lawmakers have their way, the seven-member state Supreme Court would lose four Democratic justices.
“They had a complete disregard for the Constitution of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Rep. Cris Dush, of Indiana & Jefferson Counties, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Dush, a Republican, wants Justices Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, Debra Todd and David Wecht impeached, convicted and removed from office because they imposed their own congressional redistricting map on the state instead of letting lawmakers draw their own.
“There are grounds to impeach them and remove them,” says Duquesne University Law School Prof. Bruce Ledewitz.
Ledewitz says that, while the Court was right to toss out the Republican gerrymandering map of 2011, it was wrong to write its own map.
“The process by which the Court has proceeded is purely partisan,” he said.
But Ledewitz hopes the legislature will not impeach over this.
“I hope they won’t impeach. I hope they will refrain even though they have grounds,” says Ledewitz.
Hal Coffey, president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, says impeachment threatens the independence of the judiciary.
“The independence of the judiciary is critical,” says Coffey. “They must be able to make their decisions without fear of political reprisal.”
The local bar association joins the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association in condemning impeachment efforts.
Dush says he expects his impeachment resolutions to be referred to the House State & Local Government Committee chaired by Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry.
Metcalfe, a co-sponsor of the impeachment resolutions, says that if that happens he will move that process along as quickly as possible.
Metcalfe supports impeaching all four Democratic justices.
If a majority of the House agrees, it goes to the Senate where conviction requires a two-thirds vote.
One Republican senator tells KDKA he’s skeptical the Senate would vote to convict.