ABA president denounces judicial impeachment threat, points to Law Day theme

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ABA Preisdent Hilarie Bass.

ABA President Hilarie Bass is denouncing calls for the impeachment of four justices on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a decision they made requiring the speedy replacement of a congressional map they had struck down.

Bass noted that Pennsylvania Chief Justice Thomas Saylor has criticized the impeachment resolutions, backed by 12 Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania. Saylor said that threats to impeach justices because of a particular decision “are an attack upon an independent judiciary.” Saylor had dissented when the justices struck down the map, which had benefited Republicans, and he was not among the justices targeted.

Bass echoed Saylor’s concerns about the impeachment resolutions. “The ABA denounces this move as an attack on judicial independence,” Bass said in the statement. “Legislators are free to disagree with judicial rulings, but punishing judges in a partisan manner for making valid rulings is not acceptable.”

Bass noted that the theme for Law Day on May 1 is “Separation of Powers: A Framework for Freedom.” The theme highlights the critical role of the nation’s system of checks and balances. “The reminder is timely” in light of the impeachment move in Pennsylvania, Bass said.

Read our Defending Justice series of essays on judicial independence topics.

WITF and Philly.com report that leaders in the Pennsylvania House don’t plan to support the impeachment resolutions, though they also don’t agree with the court decision.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court majority had struck down the congressional map based on the state constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court last week turned down a Republican request to block the new map. It was the second time the high court refused to issue a stay blocking the top Pennsylvania court’s orders in the case.

See also:

ABA Journal: “The executive branch pushes the boundaries of the separation of powers”

Updated on March 27 to add links to ABA Journal stories.

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