Upset that their super-gerrymandered congressional district map was thrown out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Republican members of the state legislature want to take the next “logical” step and impeach the majority of Democratic justices who made the ruling.
Besides showing a complete lack of understanding about how our three-branch government system works, they have once again demonstrated that partisan politics is more important to them than progressing the state. In the past several years, the GOP-controlled legislature has held state budgets hostage and kept important legislation, like medical-marijuana laws and anti-discrimination laws, from ever seeing the light of day. It’s a miracle that medical marijuana was ever legalized at all.
But this is a whole new level of narcissistic leadership. A group of GOP representatives didn’t like being called out on their overtly political congressional maps. Those maps, which make it easier for Republicans to win seats in Congress, were originally approved by the Supreme Court, which was, at that time, led by a Republican majority.
But this is why we have elections and three independent branches of government — for checks and balances. However, this GOP-led legislature doesn’t care about fundamental fairness, and it never has. If its members don’t like a legal ruling, the first reaction is to try and impeach duly elected officials, just because they don’t agree.
What we find most interesting is that there are procedures in place to impeach the governor and the Supreme Court, but the legislature sits safe and sound. Pennsylvania has no process to hold recall elections for legislators who don’t perform the way we’d like. Our state House is too big and has too much power to wield. But that doesn’t mean we have to take it.
These politicians are up for re-election every two years. They’ve been pulling stuff like this for decades and continue to be re-elected. Why? Because of voter apathy. We don’t vote in numbers like we should and, therefore, the same people pushing the same ideologies are re-elected.
But we need to vote. We have to. The final component of our system of checks and balances is the voter. We have a responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and make sure they don’t try to usurp our power. A majority of Pennsylvanians voted for those justices. They are our representatives in that corner of our governmental system.
If our state legislators want to get out of line and interfere with the work of our Supreme Court, we have to get to the polls this year and send a strong message: You don’t run this. We do.
City Paper’s editorial board is Charlie Deitch, Meg Fair and Celine Roberts.