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Cranberry lawmaker seeks impeachment of AG Kane over gay marriage ban defense

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 5:15 p.m.
 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe's resolution calling for the impeachment of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has little chance of success, an expert in Pennsylvania constitutional law said.

“Under any circumstance, impeachment procedures are a long shot,” said Ken Gormley, the dean of Duquesne University's School of Law. “Impeachment proceedings are supposed to be about abuse of office, not bad judgments while in office.”

Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said he introduced the impeachment resolution Tuesday because Kane is refusing to defend the state's ban on gay marriage. The resolution was co-sponsored by five Republican representatives.

“All public officials in Pennsylvania swear an oath to uphold and defend the constitution and laws of this Commonwealth,” Metcalfe said in a news release. “Attorney General Kane's repeated violation of her constitutional, statutory and ethical duties cannot be tolerated if our system of government is to work properly.”

Kane spokesman Joseph Peters said Kane's position remains unchanged from her remarks on Oct. 22, when she accused Metcalfe of bullying and “political gamesmanship.”

Kane in August said she could not defend the constitutionality of the state's marriage act, which defines marriage as between “one man and one woman.” She referred the case to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's general counsel.

“Attorneys general in Pennsylvania have historically made judgements about laws that they felt were unconstitutional and should not be enforced just as they've made judgments about generally what laws they want to spend their time and resources enforcing,” Gormley said.

The last impeachment proceeding in Pennsylvania was in 1994. That year, Allegheny County Judge W. Terrence O'Brien removed former Justice Rolf Larsen from the Supreme Court as a result of his conspiracy conviction for obtaining a fraudulent prescription.

Larsen appealed. On Oct. 4, 1994, the Senate sustained a charge of improperly communicating with a trial judge but acquitted Larsen of the prescription drug count.

“Although impeachment is a rarely used legislative instrument, it is our duty as members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to stop her from engaging in further misbehavior in office by acting as a balance of power,” Metcalfe said in the release.

“It's very disappointing (Metcalfe) is resorting to a very seldom-used legislative procedure to try to intimidate the attorney general,” state Sen. Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said Tuesday.

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