Orie Melvin Resigns

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has finally resigned in advance of her sentencing in early May.  She and two sisters were convicted in the past year of using their state offices, resources and staffs to run Orie Melvin’s two Supreme Court campaigns.  Former State Senator Jane Orie is already in prison.  Janine Orie was convicted with Orie Melvin in February.  The House Judiciary Committee was already advancing impeachment proceedings when the resignation was announced this week.

This leaves the Supreme Court divided 3-3 on partisan lines so any deadlocks will uphold whatever Superior and Commonwealth Court cases wind up in tie votes.  Gov. Corbett must now appoint someone to resume the eight years of the ten year term now vacated by Justice Orie Melvin.  The State Senate must approve that nominee by two thirds vote meaning the 27-23 GOP majority must gain bipartisan support to approve the Governor’s choice.  This means that person must be a moderate, at least.

Superior Court Judge Jack Panella of Bethlehem ran against Orie Melvin but was handicapped by her illegal use of state employees on her campaign.  He should be the obvious choice since he was the only candidate for the seat who ran a clean, legal campaign.

Joan Orie Melvin, Janine Orie Convicted

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was convicted today following four days of jury deliberations.  She was convicted of using government funds and staff to campaign for the Commonwealth’s highest court in both 2003 and 2009.  Her sister Janine Orie was also convicted.  The jury couldn’t come to agreement on one charge of official oppression.  The sisters can join former State Senator Jane Orie in state prison.  This is proof that the family which corrupts together gets to stay in prison together.  The Justice now must be removed from the Court and Gov. Corbett will appoint a replacement who will serve the balance of her ten year term.

I heard a lot of rumors about how the former Superior Court Judge was conducting her 2009 campaign and knew it was rife with corruption.  I wrote about some of those allegations at the time.

PA Supremes Hear Voter ID Today

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, sitting in Philadelphia, hears arguments for and against Voter ID this morning.  The six members of the state appellate body are evenly split 3-3 by political party.  Meanwhile federal courts are striking down similar laws in various other states.  Ohio’s refusal to allow early voting is also being challenged by a federal court.

Voting rights are under attack by those claiming impersonation at polls is a problem.  No case has been filed in Pennsylvania in living memory so conservatives decided to use that rampant fraud to disenfranchise 758,000 eligible voters.  It’s just coincidence (tongue in cheek comment) that most of those without a photo ID are, demographically, Democrats.

One of the central arguments against the law will be the charge that Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson cited a bigoted case from 1869 to justify his ruling.  That case Patterson v. Barlow held that ruffians and degenerates (as considered by those outside Philadelphia) weren’t worthy of voting.  The new law is similar in that it was passed by Pennsylvanians outside Philly to, largely, disenfranchise Philadelphia voters.  Studies show that up to 43% of voters in the City of Brotherly Love don’t have acceptable ID.

Should the Supreme Court fail to over ride Voter ID opponents have little time to go to federal court.  A deadlock along party lines would affirm the bigoted Commonwealth Court ruling and uphold Voter ID.  If Chief Justice Ron Castille rules with his Democratic colleagues (he did so on legislative reapportionment) instead of his fellow Republicans the law goes down and the right to vote is restored.  A federal court could issue an injuntion preventing Pennsylvania from enforcing the law November 6th.

Meanwhile delusional Secretary of State Carol Aichele is claiming that Voter ID will actually increase turnout.  How you do that by suppressing the vote is hysteria.  Perhaps she is eligible for mental health assistance.  Oh wait, those state services have been gutted by Gov. Corbett.  I suppose there’s no help available for her.  Maybe returning to Chester County where she has a history of suppressing the African-American vote on a much smaller scale will serve her better.

PA Supreme Court Rejects Legislative Reapportionment Plan

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court acted today to reject the legislative maps drawn up to redistrict House and Senate districts.  Because candidates have already begun circulating petitions this is throwing a huge haymaker into the year’s political process.

In presidential election years our primary election is conducted in April rather than May.  That backed up the nominating petition process to this week and those running for office have about thre weeks to gather signatures on petitions from within their legislative districts.  Now no one knows the boundaries of those districts.

The reapportionment commission split up numerous municipalities and gerrymandered others resulting in today’s decision.  Eleven appeals were heard Monday and a Republican Court overturned the plan when Chief Justice Ronald Castille voted with Democrats.

What will this mean?   Absent the new maps the old ones revert back to force.  This means candidates must gather their signatures based on the old legislative districts.  The commission cannot map new ones in time for the April primary.  Any redrawn maps will go into effect in 2014 instead.