3:02 PM, Aug 5, 2013 • By CHRISTINE FLOWERS
A visitor to Richmond can’t leave without a trip to John Marshall’s house, a living shrine to the greatest chief justice in the history of the United States. Passing through the halls of his former home, it is as if the spirit of the great man is present in the articles he used and the rooms he inhabited. The courtly tour guide will narrate his history for you in a pleasing Virginia lilt, and you will come to realize that this country owes as much to Marshall as to Adams, Franklin and to the justice’s own illustrious cousin, Jefferson.
Lawyers understand the debt owed to John Marshall, the man who raised the third branch of government to co-equal status with the legislature and, perhaps more importantly, the executive. When the important documents of our founding are discussed, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the obvious and most prominent ones for any layman. It is not unlikely, however, that a lawyer would add the text of Marbury v. Madison to the list, since it was in this landmark Supreme Court case that John Marshall established the principle of judicial review, writing: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department [the judicial branch] to say what the law is.”
That principle has remained constant for the past two centuries. Unfortunately, judicial review has recently come under attack in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state that gave this country the framework for her legal system.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced at a carefully staged press conference last month at the National Constitution Center (irony not lost here) that she would not defend the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage against a challenge that had recently been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court. Pursuant to Pennsylvania’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which closely tracked the federal version, marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman. In refusing to defend against the lawsuit, Kane assured the receptive crowd that she was not allowing her own personal views on same-sex marriage, which she supports, to govern her decision on whether to represent the commonwealth in court. Instead, she gave the following explanation for her action:
“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s [law banning same-sex marriage] where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional.”
Then began the series of press appearances on local and national media where the woman who had stated during her campaign that politics had no place in the attorney general’s office suddenly looked very much like a candidate pursuing higher office. On a local public radio station, Kane excused her failure to defend the statute despite a clear mandate to do so under Section 204(a)(3) of Commonwealth Attorney’s Act which states that “it shall be the duty of the Attorney General to uphold and defend the constitutionality of all statutes so as to prevent their suspension or abrogation in the absence of a controlling decision by a court of competent jurisdiction.” Kane pointed to another provision, Section 204(c) which permits her office to “authorize the General Counsel or the counsel for an independent agency to initiate, conduct or defend any particular litigation in [her] stead” where she determines that it is more efficient or “otherwise in the best interest of the Commonwealth.”
Kane apparently believes that it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth if its attorney general does not defend a law that she believes to be “wholly unconstitutional.” That would make sense only if she had the right to determine the constitutionality of that law. However, her office does not give her or any lawyer not currently on the bench or in the legislature the authority to make that call. A simple reading of Marbury would have reminded Kane of the limits of her power and office.
The taxpayer-funded Obamacare temperance league. Jul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
When Prohibition ended in 1933, Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot promised to make purchasing alcohol “as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” To this day, Pennsylvania has some of the most stringent—and absurd—liquor laws in the country. Beer and wine can’t be sold in grocery stores, and you can only purchase six-packs of beer at delis or under the counter at bars and taverns, and no more than two six-packs can be purchased at a time.
8:00 AM, May 3, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Allyson Schwartz, the Democratic suburban Philadelphia congresswoman running for governor, was the director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, from 1975 to 1988. Her time there coincided with the formative years of abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s infamous career.
2:02 PM, Apr 16, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The problem with Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist on trial for killing a mother and at least seven infants born alive after botched abortions, is that the government has too many anti-abortion regulations and not enough public funds for providing abortions to poor women. That’s according to the participants on a conference call hosted by RH Reality Check, a news and commentary website focused on “reproductive & sexual health and justice.”
3:51 PM, Apr 3, 2013 • By GARY BAUER
One of the most sinister characters on TV appears in AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead and is known as the Governor. Initially presented as a selfless leader, the Governor is soon exposed as a deranged tyrant who demands absolute loyalty from everyone around him and worships death to the point of preserving human heads in aquarium tanks. In this season’s finale, he even slaughters his own people in a frenzy of bloodlust.
The politics of liquor stores in Pennsylvania. Mar 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 27 • By FRED BARNES
The legacy of Gifford Pinchot rests heavily on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pinchot is known nationally as a great conservationist. In Pennsylvania, however, he’s remembered as a great Prohibitionist. Pinchot was governor when Prohibition ended in 1933 and he regretted its demise. He vowed to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” His success is felt to this day.
9:19 PM, Nov 6, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Fox News projects Barack Obama will win Pennsylvania. Mitt Romney's campaign gave a late push there, but it appears not to have paid off.
9:10 PM, Nov 6, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Bob Casey has held on to his Senate seat in Pennsylvania, Fox News projects. Casey, whose significant lead in the polls dropped in the final weeks of the campaign, has held off a challenge from Republican Tom Smith, a businessman from Western Pennsylvania.
The former president pitches Obama in Pennsylvania.7:26 PM, Nov 5, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Blue Bell, Pa.
Bill Clinton was the star at a reelection rally here for Barack Obama, in suburban Philadelphia the day before the election. The former president addressed a crowd in the cold on the campus of Montgomery County Community College Monday afternoon. It was one one of four appearances Clinton made across Pennsylvania today.
10:26 AM, Nov 5, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Reuters writes the following about Mitt Romney’s Sunday night rally on the outskirts of Philadelphia: “The rally drew a huge crowd, but Romney arrived some 90 minutes after he was expected and hundreds of people streamed out of the rally as he spoke, angry and c
6:00 AM, Nov 4, 2012 • By JAY COST
The Romney campaign seems to have committed to a late push into Pennsylvania, to the derision of Team Obama. The latter sees this as a desperation ploy by a foundering campaign, similar to John McCain’s late entrance into the Keystone State in 2008. Is that right?
11:20 AM, Oct 31, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new ad from Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith of Pennsylvania features a personal testimonial from Smith's daughter, Allison.
"If he's as good a senator as he is a father and neighbor, Pennsylvania will be in great hands," she says. Watch the ad below:
3:18 PM, Oct 30, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Mitt Romney's campaign has a new television ad directed at voters in Pennsylvania. The ad juxtaposes Barack Obama's record and rhetoric on the coal industry with Romney's plan.