Not Above the Law

Not Above the Law

October 2013

In the U.S.A, no one is above the law. We do not have a king or queen, but a Constitution and the rule of law. If an elected official has a responsibility under the law, but refuses to comply with the law, then that individual should no longer be allowed to remain in office.

It was reported that as a candidate for Attorney General, Kathleen Kane said, “The Attorney General does not have the right to pick and choose which laws he or she enforces.”

I agree!

According to our Pennsylvania Constitution, the Attorney General “shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be imposed by law.” A section of our law known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act requires that the Attorney General defend the constitutionality of all lawfully enacted statutes. There is an exception when, “it is more efficient or otherwise is in the best interest of the Commonwealth,” but there is no exception for the Attorney General’s personal opinion of the law.

On July 11, 2013, Attorney General Kane announced at a press conference that she would not defend the constitutionality of our state’s Defense of Marriage Act against a federal lawsuit. Her reason was that she believes the law is “wholly unconstitutional.” No court has ruled that Pennsylvania’s legal definition of marriage between one man and one woman is unconstitutional. The most recent U.S. Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor, declared the federal law to be unconstitutional because it intruded upon the states’ “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.” Her decision and declaration was based solely on her own opinion. Of course as a member of the executive branch of our government, she does not have the right to act as a member of the judicial branch.

This type of misbehavior in office cannot be allowed. If an Attorney General can pick and choose which laws are constitutional and which laws she will defend or enforce, then the will of “We the People” through our elected lawmakers will be thwarted. In the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Immediately following her public announcement, I joined colleagues in sending a letter to the Attorney General urging her to reconsider her decision to refuse to fulfill the duties of the office to which she was elected.

Last week, having allowed her ample time to reconsider her decision, I sent a cosponsor memo to members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to request their support of an impeachment resolution. Impeachment is a legislative tool designed to create accountability between the three branches of our government. Legislatures at the state and federal level have been derelict in their duty for not using it to reign in executive and judicial branch violations of our constitution and our law. Impeachment is a process to remove someone from office or in other words to say “You’re Fired!”

An excerpt from the impeachment resolution reads, “Wherefore, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

Is anyone above the law? The introduction of this impeachment resolution has nothing to do with politics, personalities, or political parties but has everything to do with the rule of law. I believe that all members of the legislature should join me in telling Kathleen Kane, “You’re Fired!”