In handling the Constitution, the PA Supreme Court gives an absurd level of deference to the legislature. The following wording has appeared in numerous opinions over the past ten years:
"It is well established that a statute is presumed to be constitutional and will not be declared unconstitutional unless it clearly, palpably and plainly violates the Constitution... Therefore, the party challenging the constitutionality of a statute has a heavy burden of persuasion."
And the following sums up who the Court's bias favors:
"Historically, our Court has refrained from inquiring into alleged procedural irregularities in the passage of legislation and has presumed that a statute has been legally enacted."
Most Pennsylvanians have now come to understand that assuming the legislature works within the confines of the Constitution is akin to believing in the tooth fairy. It all sounds nice, but it simply isn't so.
Additionally, the PA Supreme Court has handed down decisions over the past few years which have directly eroded the protections offered by the PA Constitution, including:
Pennsylvania School Boards Association v. Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (PSBA v. CASA, 2002), which allowed the legislature to change the entire meaning of a bill at the last minute, effectively voiding the Single Subject and Three Day protections. Justice Newman and Justice Nigro both concurred.
Pennsylvanians Against Gambling Expansion Fund, Inc. et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al., where the Court upheld Act 71 of 2004 - the slots bill - despite apparent violations of the Original Purpose and Single Subject protections. The decision cited PSBA v. CASA.
PAVING THE WAY FOR THE PAY RAISE
Justice Nigro concurred on Act 71, while Justice Newman recused herself due to a conflict of interest apparently arising from ownership of horse racing interests. This decision was handed down on June 22, 2005.
On July 7, 2005 the legislature approved the pay raise. The Governor quickly signed it. The Chief Justice praised it. It was later revealed the Chief Justice of the court helped author the pay raise legislation and actively lobbied for its passage.
Although Chief Justice Cappy publicly praised the pay raise, Justice Newman and Justice Nigro failed to speak out against it. The pay raise violates the Single Subject, Original Purpose, Three Day and Separation of Powers protections. It also violates Article II, Section 8 in two distinct ways.
LIVING LIKE ROYALTY
$85.00 bottles of wine, $300 dinners, On Star systems for taxpayer-funded luxury cars, paid drivers, car washes and golden junkets in luxury suites at both island and mountain resorts are just some of the expenses the Supreme Court Justices have determined are necessary to their duties and have billed taxpayers for.
In an AP story on October 30, Justice Nigro accused those opposed to his retention of making an unfair attack without examining his record. Justice Newman declined to comment.
We believe the record is very clear and points to advocating a "NO" vote on both Newman and Nigro on November 8.