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Scarnati Won’t Give Supreme Court Congressional District Data

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said he will not give the state Supreme Court the Congressional district data the court ruled he was required to hand over.

“In light of the unconstitutionality of the Court’s Orders and the Court’s plain intent to usurp the General Assembly’s constitutionally delegated role of drafting Pennsylvania’s congressional districting plan, Sen. Scarnati will not be turning over any data identified in the Court’s Orders,” a letter sent to the Supreme Court by a Senate lawyer on behalf of Scarnati read.  

The letter adds another layer to the ongoing legal battle since the court’s decision to throw out the current Congressional map and set a deadline of February 9th for the legislature to submit a new map to Governor Tom Wolf.  

Since the court’s order the dissenting opinions have been released, but the majority opinion has not been released.  The majority opinion would help the legislature understand what issues the court had with the map, and what they are looking for in a new map.  

The Senate GOP has also filed for a stay on the court’s decision with the U.S. Supreme Court.

44 Responses

  1. I agree, but maybe you meant partisanship vs impartiality? There is no impartiality on this democratic court, nor in this republican controlled Hours and Senate. Therein lies the problem.

  2. really Joe, is this the fight worth making? Problem here is these guys have never had to take on anyone formidable since they have had free reign for many years. and that includes Democratic Governors.

  3. You make an good point. It will be interesting to see if the majority opinion tries to address it. I am betting they don’t and focus their entire opinion on PA Constitutional considerations.

  4. This is a mute point. The United States Supreme Court is going to rule early next week that this whole process is going to be put on hold. There is no way this ridiculous time line imposed by these justices is going to stand. I agree that the map needs to be redone, but to do it now is ludicrous. This ruling really shows their impartialness. They are about to get educated real fast.

  5. What an arrogant ass. How long could I stay out of jail after I pledge to not follow a Supreme Court order ? How long could you ?

  6. No one is above the law including King Joe Scarnati. We don’t get to pick and choose which laws we obey and which we discard. The consequences need to be swift for this is a clear violation of an order of the highest judicial body in our commonwealth, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. A contempt citation should be enforced and, like every other Pennsylvania citizen who disregards a court order, King Scarnati should be held in contempt and placed in the pokey. Nobody is above the law and decides which laws they will follow. This is an absolutely disgraceful exercise in civic behavior displaying a profound lack of personal ethics and sets a poor example for the citizens of this wonderful state of Pennsylvania.

      1. No really.

        The Supreme Court made a ruling. Whether or not Scarnati *likes* it is immaterial. The buck stops somewhere, and when it comes to interpreting the Pennsylvania Constitution, it stops with the PA Supreme Court.

        Scarnati can change the law if he doesn’t like it. That’s how this works

        1. Neither can the courts. No where in the PA Constitution does it say the court can draw their own map and impose it on the people without the legislature. That is writing legislation from the bench. And why won’t the court release the opinions? Because then the legislators might have a chance to pick a map that works, rather than a democratic court gerrymandered map.

    1. So much for the rule of law!! I hear this repeated by Republicans all the time. Apparently it the rule of the laws you like only.

  7. I’m sure the data that Tolling Joe won’t turn over will prove that his party based their maps totally on party registration. This is the Koch brother funded scam that is taking place across the entire country. Analyze the registration data to make sure you are drawing the lines to make sure to put the most straight party Republican voters in certain districts.

    1. Its going to be really sweet when the courts illegally redraw these districts themselves and Dems still get killed.

  8. The Court should get this information from any (many) of the sources that watchdog and are involved in the issue. Likely the plaintiffs have this information, or can get it.

    So, the court should get the information elsewhere, and begin their mapping process.

    OR more simply: just pick a map from the 500 used in the case to expose the partisan nature of 2011 map.

  9. Just who does Scarnati think he is? If he doesn’t want to follow the court’s orders, he has no business being in the legislature. He should be arrested for contempt of the court and removed from office and stripped of any benefits and pensions. Our democracy is facing a slippery slope if individuals, no matter their position, are allowed to do as they please. there are other methods in place to address grievances.

  10. Where exactly does the legislature ignoring a court order take us? I mean, how does this end well for the Commonwealth? Next time the legislature disagrees with an order from the court, what stops them from ignoring it?

    I live in the PA-7. I don’t think it’s a constitutional district. I’d like to see the districts redrawn so we can have competitive elections.

    Where do I go to have that grievance redressed if a state senator can simply ignore the courts?

  11. This is awesome. The PA Supreme Court made their unconstitutional decision, now let them enforce it.

    1. It’s the Republican’s extreme gerrymandering that is unconstitutional. The legislature doesn’t get to decide on constitutionality, no matter what nonsense falls from Scarnati’s lips.

      1. The court knows that it’s ruling is unconstitutional, that’s why it has yet to provide an actual opinion or standard for judging future maps.

        The ruling itself is unconstitutional because the U.S. Constitution — which supersedes the PA Constitution — gives state legislatures the power to determine the time, place and manner of congressional elections.

        “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.”

        1. Yes, but precisely because it is left to the state legislature, which is governed by the state constitution, which they have they have been found in violation of, your point is moot. You can’t ask the U.S. supreme court to strike down a right given to the state by the U.S. constitution. If the State supreme court says the legislature violated the state constitution, the legislature is free to pursue changes to that constitution. Until that happens, however, they are bound by it. Sorry.

  12. J. B. Johnson says:

    February 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    How can the republican congress and the white house continue to say that President Trump won fair and square when congress illegally redistricted five states so far as we
    know of after the Presidential election in 2012. Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio according to each state’s supreme court. Sad how democracy has failed in our country

    1. What do gerrymandered congressional districts have to do with Trump carrying Pennsylvania? You sir, need to read a book.

      1. You sir do not understand gerrymandering at all if you can not understand how it helped trump win. Can anyone recommend a book for him?

        1. State borders cannot be gerrymandered. Next thing you’ll say is that the U.S. Senate is gerrymandered.

  13. How can the republican congress and the white house continue to say that President Trump won fair and square when congress illegally redistricted five states so far as we
    know of after the Presidential election in 2012. Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio according to each state’s supreme court. Sad how democracy has failed in our country.

    1. Wow, I hope this opinion is not reflective of the general population in Pennsylvania. Its critical that our citizens understand the electoral process for president in order to make sound judgements.

  14. The PA Constitution reposes the supreme judicial power in the Supreme Court.

    Using our principles of federalism, when one of the co-equal branches of government that is not charged by the PA Constitution with determining the constitutionality of judicial orders chooses to not comply with those directives, you have anarchy.

    Mr. Scarnati spent hundreds of thousands of dollars litigating this very claim, was represented by highly skilled lawyers, and lost. He still wishes to continue litigating, no matter how fruiltess his efforts and expenditures of taxpayer dollars is, and in his current position, he has that right. What Mr. Scarnati does not have the right to do is, on his own whim, plainly ignore the Court’s Orders and/or pick and choose what orders he will comply with; what kind of precedent is he setting to come? Under the Scarnati doctrine, nobody would have to comply with any of the hair-brain laws coming from DC from Trump and Co., or the silly laws passed during the Corbett Administration.

  15. I approve of this. Good for Scarnati. The court in this case needs it’s power checked by the legislature.

    1. Wrong. The courts check the legislature. And when the legislature does something wrong, in this case, a blatantly unconstitutional gerrymandering, and refuses to rectify the problem itself, then the court has every right to step in and force them to do it.

      1. If the maps are so blantantly unconstitutional as you claim, why hasn’t the court issued an opinion yet outlining why and provided a standard for judging future maps?

  16. Good for Scarnati for having a backbone to stand up to the Court. These justices need to be put in their place. David Wecht should recuse himself from this case anyway based on his clearly biased opinion on this issue. He thinks he’s the smartest person in the room, but stay tuned because he’s about to get taken to school….

    1. Scarnati maybe the Senate Pro Temp but he is not the king. Something that is ruled un-constitutional cannot wait to be corrected until after the next census. Get the info somewhere else and find him in contempt.

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