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Supreme Court Rules Against Wolf, For Arneson

wolf-sadThe argument over executive appointments by departing political officials is old as Adams and Jefferson.

Today, a new chapter (at least for Pennsylvania) was written.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a 3-1 decision that Director of the Office of Open Records Erik Arneson could not be fired without cause.

Arneson had been appointed by Gov. Corbett in his final days only for Gov. Wolf to rescind the appointment once he assumed office.

This led to a lengthy court battle between the Governor and Arenson that has now finally been resolved.

“The Office of Open Records absolutely must be independent to function properly, and I am thrilled that the court agreed,” Arneson responded. “I’m excited to continue working as executive director. We have an outstanding team over here.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman also issued a statement in support.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for ensuring government transparency and accountability in our Commonwealth. This case was originally filed in an effort to uphold the intent of the Open Records Law and establish a definitive independence between the Office of the Governor and the Office of Open Records.

“The outcome of this case is an important victory for government transparency and an important reminder to the Governor of the legislature’s role. At the same time, it is disappointing that Governor Wolf spent such a significant amount of time and resources trying to prevent the independence of the Office.

“Despite being faced with enormous adversity, Erik Arneson has served as an outstanding Executive Director of the Office of Open Records and should be commended for his resounding work ethic on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania. I am fully confident that Erik will fulfill the remainder of his six-year term with drive and dedication.”

Governor Wolf’s spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan issued the following response:

“The Wolf Administration looks forward to working with Mr. Arneson to promote transparency. Governor Wolf has already taken many steps to ensure government is ethical and open to the public including enacting a gift ban, reforming legal contracting, releasing his calendar each week and posting cabinet expenses online. The governor will continue to look for ways to increase openness in government.”

The majority opinion, written by Justice Max Baer and joined by Justices Michael Eakin and Thomas Saylor, can be read here. Justice Debra Todd’s dissenting opinion can be read here.

9 Responses

  1. Eakin isn’t the issue. But if I recall correctly, this ruling goes against a precedent of a similar case.

  2. I often forget that “political correctness” has become a catch-all term for progressive ideas that you folks don’t like, like fairness and impartiality in contrast to prejudice. Justice Eakin’s e-mails call into question his impartiality, his judgment, and his fitness to serve. I suppose we can console ourselves with the fact that that dinosaur will be off the court in three years. Such a pity he turned out to be so unsavory – I rather enjoyed his poems.

  3. Receiving and sending obscene email messages on government computers is not grounds for removing an elected official. It is stupid, yes. It is grounds for removing an appointed employee. But Eakin was elected. McCaffery resigned to protect his pension and halt an investigation into referral fees to his wife, not because of the emails. You holier-than-thou Eakin critics attempting to use political correctness to override the election system are dragging the country into ruination by your ignorance of Constitutional government and separation of powers.

  4. Justice McCaffery did not resign because of emails. Read the excellent investigative reporting by Craig McCoy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    It is not nice to take money from one side and not tell the other, he says sarcastically.

  5. All Aaron’s can agree that Eakin needs to resign. Why hasn’t the governor and senate called for his removal? How come the Supreme Court hasn’t followed its own precedent and suspended him and appointed an “independent” prosecutor to review and report back to them like they did with McCaffery? Another republican cover up? Why hasn’t Castille chimed in yet calling him a sociopath ??

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