Around 12 Republican legislators filed a bill to impeach the 4 Democratic state Supreme Court justices who ruled that the state’s congressional map had been illegally gerrymandered. The justices had also ordered the state to create a new map.
The bill would impeach David Wecht, Debra McCloskey Todd, Christine Donahue and Kevin Dougherty. The four ruled that the current congressional map created back in 2011 favors Republicans and that it must be changed prior to the state’s primary in May. Justice Max Baer, who is also a Democrat, voted to strike down the map as well, but he said that the current map could remain until 2020. Baer was not included in the list of justices that would be impeached.
It was in January of this year that court made the ruling against the map. The 5-2 vote fell along party lines. Originally, the court gave legislators and Democratic governor Tom Wolf 3 months to draw a new map, but, when they could not agree to one in that time frame, the court drew its own map. Republicans responed by filing a lawsuit in federal court, and they made two separate appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. But all these efforts failed.
Cris Dush, who is a Republican legislator leading the impeachment drive, insisted that impeaching the justices was not an act of retaliation against the Democrats. He said that the 4 justices took an oath to uphold the constitutions of both Pennsylvania and the United States, and that they violated this oath. They did this, he says, by overstepping their bounds. He went on to say that impeachment was the only means the legislature had at its disposal to correct the situation.
Dush further said that he had assurances from both House Speaker Michael Turzai, who is also a Republican, and state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who is the Republican chair of the state government committee, that the impeachment proceeding would come to a vote.