“Special elections for two Pa. state House vacancies will be held Feb. 7, court rules”

Philly Inquirer:

The special elections to fill two vacant seats in the Pennsylvania state House — the subject of a contentious fight between Democrats and Republicans — will be held Feb. 7, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled Friday.

That’s a victory for Democrats, who had sought to hold the elections that day to bring the chamber to full capacity as quickly as possible. House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia had issued writs to schedule the elections on that date, but House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County had issued competing writs for May 16, the date of the primary election.

Both claimed to be the majority leader with control of the state House — leading to the legal showdown over which writs were valid. The court said Cutler, who had brought the lawsuit, hadn’t met the bar for blocking McClinton’s writs. But it stayed away from answering the underlying question of which party had a majority. Judge Michael H. Wojcik, elected to the bench as a Democrat, wrote in the order that the majority question is a political one, not a legal one for the courts.

Cutler disagreed with the ruling Friday, leveling heavy criticism at the court: “Instead of resolving a dispute where the answer was self-evident based on the numbers, the court took the path of least resistance and thereby weakened the foundations of our republic and faith in the rule of law.”

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