Widener University Delaware Law School / Flickr AOPC...
Widener University Delaware Law School / Flickr

If there is one person in the Pennsylvania Judiciary who commands respect among Republicans, it is Chief Justice Thomas Saylor. And he just just delivered what may be the ultimate nail in the coffin of this nascent effort by Republican state legislators to gin up support for the impeachment of the Democratic Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices who ruled that that the gerrymandered Congressional Districts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were unconstitutional and therefore had to be redrawn.

The Republican chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court expressed concern Thursday about an effort by several House Republicans to impeach four Democratic justices over their rulings in a congressional redistricting case.

Saylor is an exceptionally thoughtful Justice who, among other things, has practically singlehandedly shifted the state’s product liability jurisprudence in the last decade. Folks here may quibble with his philosophy but no one would argue that the man doesn’t do his homework. He didn’t have to speak out on this issue. He was one of the dissenters to the Court’s decision that the Districts violated the PA. Constitution. He wasn’t a target.

Nevertheless he spoke out in defense of his fellow Justices:

“I am very concerned by the reported filing of impeachment resolutions against justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania related to the court’s decision about congressional redistricting,” Saylor said. “Threats of impeachment directed against justices because of their decision in a particular case are an attack upon an independent judiciary, which is an essential component of our constitutional plan of government.”

We Pennsylvanians are hopeful that Justice Saylor’s rebuke is the final word on this issue. Already we are seeing the most prominent Republicans in our legislature beginning to back away from the prospect of impeachment. GOP House Speaker Mike Turzai, earlier this week:

“We continue to believe that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority in an unprecedented fashion when it legislated from the bench, by adding new requirements for drawing congressional districts which do not exist either in the Pennsylvania Constitution or the U.S. Constitution, and by drawing its own map,” he said in a statement this week. “Nonetheless, we respect the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and are prepared to move on to other issues of importance to the people of Pennsylvania.”

And hours after Saylor’s statement, here was Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed:

Hours after Saylor issued his statement, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, sought to put the matter to rest in his caucus.

“While I believe the state Supreme Court’s decision to draw and implement their own redistricting map is wrong, disagreement over the outcome of any particular case should not be grounds for impeachment,” Reed said in a statement

Thank you, gentlemen.

Let’s move on.

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