Brookville Republican Legislator Dush Wants to Impeach Four Democratic Supreme Court Justices

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Brookville Republican Pennsylvania Legislator Cris Dush recently introduced legislation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to impeach four Democratic Supreme Court justices, who he claims violated the Pennsylvania Constitution when they redrew the commonwealth’s congressional districts recently.

Dush is calling for the impeachment of Justices David Wecht, Debra McCloskey Todd, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty. Those four, along with Democratic Justice Max Baer, voted to declare the 2011 Congressional reapportionment map in Pennsylvania to be unconstitutional. Baer, however, didn’t join with the other four Democrats in the decision to draw a new map, which is possibly why he isn’t part of the impeachment bill, which Dush said in a recent Facebook post wasn’t about the gerrymandering issue but instead is about what he calls an “unconstitutional theft of powers.”

“The United States of America and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania constitutions have been written to protect the people from any one branch of government overstepping the powers given to them by the people,” Dush wrote on Facebook. “The constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States are contracts; Contracts between you, The People” and the government you hire to write (legislature), administer (executive branch) and interpret (judiciary) the law.”

Dush’s claim is the Pennsylvania Constitution does not allow any branch of the Commonwealth government to start new powers not given to them in the original constitution without the people’s will and vote, which he claims is exactly what the four Supreme Court justices did when they redrew the map.

“(The court performed), as attorney Kyle Sammin noted in The Federalist, “a coup d’état” when they wrote their own piece of legislation to create their own gerrymandered congressional district map,” Dush wrote. “As Sammin noted: ‘they took the pencils out of the legislature’s hands and said ‘we’ll just write the thing ourselves.’’ They took your vote and your hand off those pencils. Your will was no longer represented, but the will of an ‘elite’ few decided for you. Your rights were stolen by the judicial branch. Your sovereignty was stolen by the courts to rewrite the laws.These justices have turned the doctrine of first principles and the Pennsylvania Constitution on their heads.”

According to Dush, the only constitutional check on misbehavior in office for the Supreme Court is impeachment.

“We started that process March 19,” Dush said. “House Resolutions 766, 767, 768 and 769 have respectively been put forward to begin the impeachment process for Justices David Wecht, Debra Todd, Christine Donahue and Kevin Dougherty.”

Dush’s impeachment bills were presented a day after the United States Supreme Court declined to block the new congressional map from taking effect for the May primary.

How far will Dush’s bill go?

No one is certain.

The bill would have to be brought up for a vote on the House floor, no certainty, at which point the House would have to find that the judges have committed an impeachable offense. That would be a strict majority vote.

But, House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin wasn’t ready Tuesday to comment on if the House would take up the matter.

“We will have to review the evidence and check whether all of the leaders and 102 members of the House want to pursue that remedy,” Miskin told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It is not a decision to be made lightly, and we have not had those discussions.”

If that vote was successful, each Justice would then go before the Commonwealth Senate to face trial. In order to convict and remove the Justices from office, two-thirds of the Senators present would have to vote for conviction. Currently, Republicans hold a 34-16 majority in the chamber, which is 68 percent or just above the threshold to remove if the vote turned out to be partisan.

But, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman of Centre County declined to comment on the matter when asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer pointing out to the paper that it would be improper to do so since he and other senators would be the jurors.

“We obviously, are supposed to be impartial listening to that evidence,” he told the paper.

Democrats were quick to question the motives behind the impeachment charges.

“It’s an attack on the independence of every judge in our state, one of the bedrock principles of our democracy,” House Minority Leader Frank Dermody said in a prepared statement.

“If pursued, this would be a clear and present danger to the administration of justice in Pennsylvania.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave the legislature and Governor Tom Wolf both an opportunity to present their own redistricting plans once the 2011 map was declared unconstitutional. But the court found that neither side’s plans would meet the Commonwealth Constitution’s definition of compact, equal and fair. The new map appears to have a main emphasis on the compactness of the districts with an equal population in each district.

The political stakes of the new map are high for both sides with many experts believing that the Democratic Party could pick up additional seats in Congress with the new map.

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