Judicial Retirement Age Should Remain 70

Judicial Retirement Age Should Remain 70 — A question to amend the Pennsylvania constitution and raise the mandatory retirement ages for judges from 70 to 75 is on today’s (Nov. 8) ballot.

Vote no.

We detailed the petty political history behind that question back in September. Feel free to read it if you should need the background.

Judicial Retirement Age Should Remain 70

Pointless Pettiness Is Bad Politics

Pointless pettiness is bad politics.

The Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that judges retire at age 70. Some thought that was too early and wanted to make it age 75. The amendment process requires one of the legislative chambers — both of which have been under Republican control since 2011 — to write the amendment. It is then advertised in at least two newspapers in every county at least three months before the next general election. It then must be passed again via simple majority by both chambers in the next session. The wording is then placed on a ballot as a referendum giving the general public final say.

The chambers approved this:  Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?

The referendum was scheduled for the April 26 primary and the mandated advertising — costing the public $1.3 million  — was performed.

Pointless Pettiness Is Bad PoliticsThe Senate leadership had second thoughts, however. Cynics are saying they feared the public might vote it down which would have forced the removal of Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican, giving the Democrats control of the state Supreme Court.

So they filed a legal challenge claiming the words were too confusing. The state Supreme Court laughed and threw it out.

The legislature then passed resolutions, April 6 and April 11 invalidating  the election two weeks away. They  re-wrote the amendment for the Nov. 8 general election as:  Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices, judges and justices of the peace be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years.

Democrats  filed a legal challenge saying the delay was unconstitutional because the legislation was not presented to Gov. Wolf as required. Commonwealth Court rejected the argument.

They filed another challenge saying the delay illegal because it was political in nature. Commonwealth Court rejected this claim on July 6.

A challenged was filed on July 21 by former Supreme Court justices Ronald Castille and Stephen Zappala Sr, and Philadelphia attorney Richard Sprague saying the new wording was deceitful.

Supreme Court took the case and voted 3-3 which left the wording as the short version. Saylor appropriately recused himself.

Yesterday, Sept. 16, the court ruled 4-2 that the case can’t be reconsidered, hence the short version without the mention of an existing mandated retirement age is what the voters will see.

The Court got it right with the last argument. It isn’t their job to determine the wording of amendments. On the other hand, it is judiciary’s job to judge process and if constitutional amendments require legislative votes in consecutive sessions with advertising in between, then one wonders how changes in the wording can be made at the last minute.

And what’s it say about our solons if they can’t get it right in the first place?

The word changes are pointless gamesmanship and political pettiness at the highest level. This stuff always backfires especially when one learns it has wasted $1.3 million of our money.

And, for what it’s worth, the retirement age should not be increased. Vote this amendment down on Nov. 8.

Pointless Pettiness Is Bad Politics

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Kane And Media Failure

Kathleen Kane And Media FailureKathleen Kane And Media Failure — Kathleen Kane is an historic figure. She is the first woman and the first Democrat to be elected Pennsylvania’s attorney general. She is also the first Pennsylvania attorney general to have her law license suspended.

Truly a unique legacy.

The law license suspension came after she was charged with multiple counts of obstructing administration of law  and official oppression, along with perjury and false swearing relating to leaks from the grand jury investigation  the Jerry Sandusky child abuse matter.  She had been implying that then Gov. Tom Corbett had handled it inappropriately, something for which Corbett has since been conclusively exonerated it should be noted.

Leaking grand jury information is a big no-no in our judicial system and rightfully so, but it’s not as though that was the only questionable thing she did in her short career as the person responsible for enforcing Pennsylvania’s laws. She refused to refused to defend Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage prohibition in court declaring it unconstitutional — a declaration that was not in her purview to make — and shut down a corruption investigation into Philadelphia politicians which was subsequently re-opened by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams who managed to obtain several guilty pleas.

With all this grief falling on her head, our princess fought back. She said it was all a conspiracy by powerful men who spent their days sending pornography and racist jokes to each other via email. Quick quiz: did any of you gentle readers ever send or receive something a tad inappropriate via email? Of course not. However, it now appears that Ms. Kane certainly received them herself and her twin sister, Ellen Granahan, who heads her child predator unit, not only got them but passed them on.

So what was this woman thinking when she made her counter-charges and  hurt the lives of others who were just trying to do their jobs? How can a person of such character end up with such a powerful and important job?

Well, she was sort of pretty and that’s not to be discounted, but so is Sarah Palin.

The real reason is that Ms. Kane’s claims and character were never questioned by the media gate-keepers who we trust to do such things. Maybe they were afraid of being called sexist. Maybe they actually supported her philosophy that traditions are foolish and government is the greater good. Maybe both. Regardless, they  took her at her word when she said that she cared, and would look out for children and the little guy, and fight corruption.

It should be noted that the same thing dynamics were in play with Barack Obama and are in play with Hillary Clinton.

That should make us all afraid.

Kathleen Kane And Media Failure

Supreme Court Forum 5 p.m.

Independent candidate Judge Paul Panepinto is asking all to watch  watch the Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidates debate on PCN. Supreme Court Forum 5 p.m. It's  5 p.m., today,  Oct 14 at Harrisburg Widener Commonwealth Law School.  Election Day is Nov. 3.  The Republican nominees are Judith Olson, Michael George and Anne Covey. The Democrats are David Wecht, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty.

It’s  5 p.m., today,  Oct 14 at Harrisburg Widener Commonwealth Law School.

Election Day is Nov. 3.

The Republican nominees are Judith Olson, Michael George and Anne Covey. The Democrats are David Wecht, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty.

Supreme Court Forum 5 p.m.

Unions Spending Big On Pa Supreme Court

By Leo Knepper Unions Spending Big On Pa Supreme Court

Leading up to the May primaries we noted that organized labor had made significant contributions to the campaign of Judge Kevin Dougherty. (Note: Dougherty’s brother was just made the head of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council.) The spending did not stop after the primaries ended; it expanded. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article, organized labor has now made over $1.3 million in direct contributions to candidates for the Supreme Court.

Unions see the composition of the Supreme Court as being of critical importance in the near future:

“‘For us right now, the Supreme Court is ground zero,’ said Joe Battaglia, treasurer of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1, representing about 3,000 workers in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.”

The article outlines how unions see the Supreme Court as a bull work against any legislation that affects whether or not the government will act as a union collection agent for dues and political contributions. Supreme Court elections are generally sleepy affairs. However, this year’s elections will impact what ability the Legislature has to address issues like liquor store privatization and pension reform for decades.

If the Supreme Court races have flown under your radar up until now, you had better start paying attention. Otherwise, Pennsylvania may find itself with a court more interested in affecting policy than being interested in what the laws and state constitution actually say.

Mr. Knepper is with Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, anon-profit organization founded to raise the standard of living of all Pennsylvanians.

Unions Spending Big On Pa Supreme Court

Michael George Enters Supreme Court Race

PoliticsPa.com reports that the Michael George, the president judge of conservative Adams County, has announced his candidacy for one of three openings on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Others who have announced their candidacies are Superior Court Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen, Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, as well as Corraeale Stevens, who was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett to complete Joan Orie Melvin’s term which ends in January 2016.

George, it appears, is the candidate least connected to the raather dirty state party establishment so as of now he is our favorite.

The primary election is May 19. The general election is Nov. 3.

Hat tip Donna Ellingsen.

Michael George Enters Supreme Court Race

Michael George Enters Supreme Court Race

 

Election Day 2013

Today, Nov. 5, is Election Day 2013 in Pennsylvania. Mostly on the ballot are races for municipal offices such as county council, township commissioners and school board officers.

There is, however, a retention election for state Supreme Court justices Ron Castille and Max Baer, who cowardly ducked the photo voter ID issue in 2012. Vote no in it. Neither fellow will be able to complete another full-term, anyway, due to the mandatory 70-year-old retirement age.

In Castille’s case that particular milestone is reached on March 16.

Election Day 2013

Reject Pa Justices Tuesday

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille and Justice Max Baer face retention elections Tuesday, Nov. 5, and both should be rejected.

Voters, in fact, should be willing to crawl over broken glass and dance on hot coals to hit the “no” button.

The specific reason for ire is their cowardice in failing to allow the common-sense photo voter ID law — overwhelmingly supported by the state’s citizens  — on the specious grounds that it needed more discussion before the 2012 presidential election. Note it is now November 2013 and the law remains on hold.

There is a general reason as well, namely that the state’s judiciary are almost universally far more inclined to listen to the power brokers who milk the tax cow for a lucrative living, hence throwing a few of them out might, just might, make them a tad more inclined to respect the people who their decisions most affect.

Another point, the mandatory retirement age for a Justice is 70 and neither man will be able to complete a full 10-year term as Castille hits that mark on March 16 and Baer turns 66 on Dec. 24. Why are the even seeking another term? Is it to squeeze out even more of their sweet salaries  — $205,415 in Castille’s case; $199,606 in Baer’s?

Castille is a Republican. Baer is a Democrat.

Reject Pa Justices Tuesday

Insurgents Fall In GOP State Races; Dem Battle Close

The Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judges who actively sought Tea Party support fell handily  to the endorsed candidates in the Republican Primary state judicial races.

With 97 percent of the returns tallied, Paula Patrick was trailing Harrisburg attorney Vic Stabile  361,772 votes  to 190,231 in the Superior Court race, while Paul Panepinto had 167,455 votes to Anne Covey’s 386,751 in the Commonwealth Court race.

The 15-member Superior Court is the intermediate appellate court for civil and criminal cases from county Common Pleas Courts. The nine-member Commonwealth Court is the
intermediate appellate court for issues involving taxation, banking,
insurance, utility regulation, eminent domain, election, labor
practices, elections, Department of Transportation matters, and liquor
licenses
.

On the Democrat side, party-endorsed Kathryn Boockvar, a private attorney known for her work with activist groups, was leading Barbara Behrend Ernsberger 300,389 votes to 297,635 to be the Commonwealth Court candidate.

On some local notes, incumbent Springfield (Delco) 6th Ward Commissioner Bob Layden appears to have held off a challenge from former commissioner Jim Devenney, who resigned after a minor scandal involving family memberships to the township swim club. The unofficial tally is 437 to 396.

And Tea Party activists Lisa Esler and John Dougherty 3rd will be on both party ballots in this November’s Penn Delco School Board race. Elections are being held for five seats. Cross filing is allowed in Pennsylvania school board races which means that in this fall’s race ticket totals will be combined to determine the winners.

Mrs. Esler had the most votes of six candidates on the Democrat side with 424, and had the third highest tally out of seven candidates on the GOP side with 1,239.

Dougherty had the most votes on the GOP side with 1,534 and the second highest total on the Democrat side with 377.

The candidates who won on both tickets — additionally Kevin Tinsley and Kimberly Robinson — while having a significant advantage do not have a guaranteed victory. Lewis Boughner appears to have failed to win on the Democrat ticket while James S. Porter 2nd appears to have failed to win on the Republican one, so there will be six people seeking five seats. It is in the realm of possibility that a person appearing on just one ballot will be among the top five votegetters.

In Newtown, embattled supervisor Linda Houldin was crushed 1,732 votes to 480 votes  in her GOP primary by former Marple Newtown School Director Edward C. Partridge. Partridge had sought Tea Party support.

Primary Election Day 2011 In Pa.

Pennsylvania voters will cast ballots tomorrow, May 17, to determine the candidates in November for municipal, school board and judicial elections.

The state defines municipalities as counties, cities, boroughs and townships.

Turnout in these election is usually low with the turnout in the primary usually being even lower. The only state-wide races involve the Supreme Court, Commonwealth Court and Superior Court.

Seeking the Republican nomination to Superior Court  — a 15-member body that is the intermediate appellate court for civil and criminal cases from county Common Pleas Courts — are Vic Stabile and Paula Patrick.

Stabile, who has been with the law firm Dilworth Paxon LLP since 1987 and has been a managing partner since 1992, is the endorsed candidate. He has never served on the bench.

Ms. Patrick, an African-American, is a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge who is fearlessly taking on the establishment by seeking out the support of Tea Party groups.
She unabashedly told the Delaware County Patriots on March 24 that she is   pro life, pro Second Amendment, pro traditional marriage and a Born Again Christian.

Democrat David Wecht is uncontested in the Democrat Superior Court race.

Seeking the Republican nomination to Commonwealth Court — a nine-member body that is the intermediate appellate court for issues involving taxation, banking, insurance, utility regulation, eminent domain, election, labor practices, elections, Department of Transportation matters, and liquor licenses — are Paul P. Panepinto and Anne Covey.

Ms. Covey is the endorsed candidate and, like Stabile, is a private attorney who never served on the bench.

Panepinto, like Ms. Patrick, is a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge who is seeking Tea Party support and touting his pro-life, pro-Second Amendment views.

Ms. Covey is also touting her pro life beliefs and has endorsements from the major pro-life groups.

Facing off on the Democrat ticket are Kathryn Boockvar and Barbara Ernsberger. Both are private attorneys. Ms. Boockvar is the endorsed candidate and has a history of working with legal activist groups.

Up for retention elections this November are:

Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, who won election to the court in 2001 as a Republican and is known for writing decisions in rhyming verse. To his credit, his biggest critics of this practice have been former Supreme Court colleagues Stephen A. Zappala and the late Ralph Cappy, neither of whom was known as shining examples of jurisprudence.

Superior Court Judge John T. Bender, who won as a Republican in 2001

Superior Court Judge Mary Jane Bowes, who won as a Republican in 2001.

Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, who won as a Republican in 2001. She is the wife of former State Sen. Majority Leader Robert Jubelirer, who was turned out of office in his party’s primary in 2006 due to the pay raise scandal.

Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, who won as a Republican in 2001

Robert “Robin” Simpson, who won as a Republican in 2001.

On a local note, Lisa Esler  of the Delaware County Patriots is seeking a seat on the Penn-Delco School Board.