The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania meets in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The Harrisburg Chamber of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, located on the fourth floor of the Capitol, is both a seat of justice as well as an artistic treasure.
Predating the United States Supreme Court by 67 years, Pennsylvania's highest court was established by the General Assembly on May 22, 1722, a remarkable creation unprecedented in American history.
Penn, a self-taught lawyer who was jailed on dubious grounds five times in England, wanted a fair and competent court system. In the original constitutions drafted by Penn, he established a Provincial Court under the control of his British governors.
The General Assembly, however, espoused the principle of separation of powers, and formally called for a third branch of government starting with the 1701 Judiciary Bill, written by the brilliant Speaker David Lloyd of Chester County. Penn consistently rejected such measures. In 1722, the appointed British governor needed the House to raise revenues. House leaders agreed to raise taxes in return for an independent Supreme Court. Lloyd became its first Chief Justice.
|Nowhere else in the early 1700s was there an independent Supreme Court with the power to declare laws made by an elected legislative body to be unconstitutional. The concept of a free judiciary is one of Pennsylvania's greatest contributions to democracy.|