“Gerrymandering Justice: Reaction to the Pa. Supreme Court’s Rulings”

Howard Bashman in the Legal Intelligencer:

In my view, it would be a huge mistake for Republican state legislators to actually initiate impeachment proceedings against Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices for having issued rulings with which the legislators disagree as a matter of political or even legal merit. The majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not simply exercise their power as a matter of political will; rather, they issued opinions explaining the legal reasoning for why, in their view, the Pennsylvania state Constitution required the result that the court has decided to reach.

Disagreement with the merits of a decision, no matter how strongly held or meritorious those disagreements may be, simply should not and cannot be a basis for impeaching appellate judges. Just as our republic somehow survived without impeachment hearings after five Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices in Bush v. Gore managed to conclude the 2000 presidential election in favor of Republican candidate George W. Bush, Pennsylvania will survive the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent congressional gerrymandering decisions.

It is simply a fact of life that judges appointed to federal appellate courts by Republican presidents are more likely to reach conservative outcomes in politically tinged cases, and judges elected to state supreme courts as members of one political party or another are likewise more likely to reach a result that favors the side that once supported them. This does not mean that judges, when they are deciding politically tinged cases, are failing to act like judges in deciding the case. Rather, it is simply a function of the fact that the reason why Republicans favor one judicial approach and Democrats another is that those approaches most often result in the outcomes those political parties prefer.


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