Monday, August 28, 2006

Romanelli Files Appeal with PA Supreme Court

As expected, Carl Romanelli has filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from the decision of the Commonwealth Court rejecting his argument that the retention election of Justice Newman was the last statewide election on which his signature requirement should have been based.

If you've been paying attention, you know that minor parties in Pennsylvania need to submit petitions bearing the number of signatures equal to at least 2% of the highest vote-getter in the statewide election immediately preceding the general election for which they seek to nominate a candidate.

The Pennsylvania statute (25 P.S. Section 2911(b)) states, in pertinent part, as follows:
Where the nomination is for any office to be filled by the electors of the State at large, the number of qualified electors of the State signing such nomination paper shall be at least equal to two per centum of the largest vote cast for any elected candidate in the state at large at the last preceding election at which State-wide candidates were voted for.
The State Board designated the 2004 election of Casey as "the largest vote cast for any elected candidate in the state at large at the last preceding election at which State-wide candidates were voted for", leading to the 67,000+ signature requirement for this year's minor party candidates.

But, there was a statewide election in 2005 -- the judicial retention election of Justice Sandra Schultz Newman. She won retention with about 800,000 votes, meaning that Romanelli would need submit slightly less than 16,000 signatures.

The Commonwealth Court sided with Casey's party in rejecting Romanelli's argument and it is from that decision which Romanelli has now appealed. The Commonwealth Court ruled that a retention election was not an "election" within the meaning of the statute. Romanelli's argument to the Supreme Court is multi-faceted, but the central point is made obvious by this quote from his appeal:
Objectors to the Romanelli nomination papers argue that the Pennsylvania Election Code does not apply to the retention elections held in the Municipal Election or General Election. The absurdity of their position is exposed when taken to its logical conclusion. If the Election Code does not apply to retention elections then the prohibitions against stuffing the ballot box, 25 P.S.§ 3535 Repeat voting at elections, Bribery, 25 P.S. § 3539, Bribery at elections, among other things, are now perfectly legal with respect to judicial retention elections. This is hardly the legislative intent or judicial interpretation one would expect in a government of laws. Common sense has to prevail here.
From a reading of the statute, it is clear that the legislature did not draw any distinction between rentention elections and any other statewide election. To rule in favor of Casey's party, the Commonwealth Court had to read that distinction into the law because a facial reading required a ruling in favor of Romanelli. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will have to decide if it wishes to write the law or to simply apply it as the legislature wrote it. As my two readers know, I don't hold much faith that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will reach the correct result.

h/t to PoliticsPA for the Appeal.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Let Romanelli run. Give PA voters a choice. Santorum and Casey are one and the same.