A Pennsylvania state representative has introduced resolutions to impeach four of the five state Supreme Court justices who voted to override congressional district maps they said were unfairly gerrymandered on partisan lines.
The resolutions, introduced by state Rep. Cris Dush (R), accuse Justices Kevin Dougherty, Christine Donohue, Debra McClosky Todd and David Wecht of misbehavior in office.
A fifth resolution to impeach Supreme Court Justice Max Baer is pending introduction.
In a memo to fellow House members, Dush said the ruling overriding Pennsylvania’s U.S. House district lines amounted to an overstep of judicial authority under the state Constitution, which lays out the path by which a bill becomes a law — in this case, a bill to delineate the district lines after the decennial Census and reapportionment process.
The five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution engaged in misbehavior in office,” Dush wrote to fellow members.
In an interview Tuesday, Dush said he had drafted the resolutions shortly after the Supreme Court’s initial order in January. He had hoped to add language from the U.S. Supreme Court, if they took up the case. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied Pennsylvania Republicans’ request to hear a challenge to the state Supreme Court decision.
“This is basically 7th grade civics class all over again, the separation of powers and the authority of the legislature,” Dush told The Hill. “The courts basically are there to interpret when there’s conflict in the law, and they don’t have any sovereignty.”
The Supreme Court’s January order struck down the existing congressional district maps, under which Republicans won 13 of 18 seats in the 2016 elections. The court gave legislative Republicans just a few weeks to draw new maps, before they imposed district lines drawn by their own special master.
“The maps are indeed a piece of legislation. We write it out and we break it out by counties, cities, townships, and even down to the very voting precincts and wards if necessary,” Dush added. “The product the state Supreme Court produced is just a series of maps.”
The state House has the sole power to impeach justices, and Republicans control 120 of 203 state House seats. Actually removing justices would require a two-thirds vote in the state Senate. Republicans control 34 of the 50 state Senate seats — enough to remove any justice on party-line votes.