Mary Hannah Leavitt, president judge emerita of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, has set March 15 as the date when the mail-in ballot law will be stricken.
Leavitt wrote in the 12-page memorandum opinion, “Given the particular challenges of this election year, the Court agrees that the status quo ante should be preserved while the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considers the merits of the McLinko and Bonner decisions, which are listed for argument on March 8, 2022. For this reason, the Court will delay vacating the supersedeas until March 15, 2022.”
The State Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the appeal on March 8. Their ruling is the one that will ultimately decide the law’s fate. The Court has a 5-2 Democratic advantage, which makes it highly unlikely that the lower court’s ruling will stand.
The Commonwealth Court ruled in a 3-2 decision in January that the 2019 law that authorized mail-in ballots was unconstitutionally enacted by statute rather than put to voters as a constitutional referendum.
Leavitt, who wrote the original 50-page opinion, said the Republican officeholders who challenged the law are likely to prevail in front of PA’s highest court.
Terry Madonna, a political affairs professor at Millersville University, begs to differ.
“The Supreme Court is heavily Democratic, and the Commonwealth Court that struck it down is heavily Republican,” he told WFMZ-TV. “Make no mistake, I would be surprised if the Supreme Court allows the law to be struck down.”
The March 15 date allows county boards of election to notify voters of any change in the law with two months to go before the May 17 primary, wrote Leavitt. Counties would have to do it twice, were the Commonwealth Court’s ruling to take effect and then be overruled.