GOP plan to impeach four justices remains in limbo

HARRISBURG (AP) — A proposal to impeach four Democratic justices on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court over redistricting rulings remains in limbo more than a month after resolutions were introduced by Republicans in the state House.

The state lawmaker leading the effort, which so far has just 12 co-sponsors in the 203-seat House, said he hopes to make the case to GOP representatives in a closed-door session the week of April 30.

“I haven’t had anybody that has said we don’t have the constitutional standing for this, or they can actually point me to where the judiciary had the ability to do what it did,” said Rep. Cris Dush, a Republican.

Dush drafted the resolutions seeking the removal of justices David Wecht, Debra Todd, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty. The four elected Democrats put on the fast track a legal challenge to a 2011 map of the state’s congressional districts passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by the governor at the time, Republican Tom Corbett.

The four then voted to declare the map violated the state constitution’s guarantee of free and equal elections and enacted their own map, which is being used for this year’s congressional elections. Republicans had won 13 of the state’s 18 districts in each of the three elections held under the 2011 map.

The legal challenge to the 2011 map was vigorously opposed by the top-ranking Republicans in both chambers — Speaker Mike Turzai and President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati — but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the state justices’ decision. A three-judge federal panel also rejected a challenge by two GOP state senators and eight incumbent Republican congressmen.

Dush’s resolutions accuse the justices of acting improperly through rulings that gave state lawmakers just three weeks to draw a new map and then enacted a court-drawn map.