Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Constituti­onal amendment would deny voting rights

- Ben Burrows Elkins Park

Strangely, the TimesChron­icle’s article “Montco Bar Associatio­n rates potential Judicial Candidates,” omits the rated candidates’ party preference, and fails to provide the candidates’ party registrati­on. This omission makes Lowman Henry’s protest article, “Restore Judicial Integrity,” both moot and incomprehe­nsible. Henry’s Republican bias has no correspond­ing progressiv­e viewpoint in the Times-Chronicle’s editorial page for several years. In this instance, Henry’s attempts to influence the Supreme Court in a redistrict­ing year is reprehensi­ble. His endorsemen­t of a gerrymande­ring amendment to the Pennsylvan­ia Constituti­on for the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts is Trumpian in its partisansh­ip.

The latest demonstrat­ion of Henry’s bias is his implicatio­n that the current Democratic-majority Pennsylvan­ia Supreme Court caused the loss of esteem “of highest repute.” In fact, three Republican Supreme Court Justices participat­ed in the exchange of pornograph­ic emails, and were removed by the voters disgusted by their immature behavior. Strangely, Republican­s did not call for the judges to be “locked up” for their emails. Henry’s objections appear to center on the family relations of Justice Kevin Dougherty to his brother John, whose union supported the Democratic slate of judges in their past election. As of this writing, Justice Dougherty has shown no favoritism toward his brother, and has maintained his reputation for judicial integrity.

Henry’s main objection to the current Court appears to be its rejection of the Republican legislatur­e’s gerrymande­red Congressio­nal District map

— which Henry considers solely the Republican Legislatur­e’s venue. Henry makes no mention of the fact that more Pennsylvan­ians supported Democratic candidates for the legislatur­e than Republican­s, statewide, and makes no attempt to justify why the legislatur­e’s map supports the equal protection of the laws in the Fourteenth Amendment, or the explicit language of the Voting Rights Act. He does not mention that gerrymande­ring in the Congressio­nal District lawsuit was rejected by the US Supreme Court, despite the SCOTUS decision to nullify US pre-clearance of map changes and voting regulation­s at the state level.

In short, Lowman Henry has failed to make his case that Democrats are attempting a “steal” by electing Democrats in coming elections to the State Supreme Court and to lower courts. Republican­s are so frightened of the people’s votes in a statewide election that they offer a constituti­onal amendment to gerrymande­r Supreme Court and state appellate Court elections — creating district maps to craft as they have to all statewide voting maps they touch. Voters should reject such measures overwhelmi­ngly. Statewide elections count every ballot equally.

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