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09/22/2019 08:40 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=28423
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 19, 2019 03:22 PM
From: Representative Torren C. Ecker and Rep. Paul Schemel
To: All House members
Subject: Cases Challenging State Statues
 
We invite you to join us in sponsoring two bills which would (1) ensure that the General Assembly is aware of lawsuits where the constitutionality of a state statute is challenged, and (2) permit either or both chambers of the General Assembly to participate in such lawsuits.

We believe that the General Assembly would benefit from having early notice of these constitutional challenges, as well as the opportunity to participate if a legislative perspective would be beneficial. Often a simple legislative response can be enacted to correct inadvertent statutory errors, provided that the General Assembly is aware of the challenges posed. In addition, many times the litigants are not equipped to provide the court with the full legislative context of an enactment, which may prove important to arriving at a just determination of a case. Or, litigants are not independently motivated to defend the constitutionality of a statute, undermining the adversarial process on which our justice system is premised.

Our bills are intended to address each of these issues and we hope you will join us in sponsoring them.

Document #1: Notice (Ecker)

Presently, the Attorney General receives formal notice of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a state statute, but no such notice is required to be delivered to the General Assembly.

This bill simply tasks the Attorney General with sharing any notice he receives with the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly, together with a brief description of the allegations and a statement indicating whether the Attorney General will defend the case or authorize another agency to defend the challenged statute.

Document #2: Standing (Schemel)

Currently, the grounds on which the General Assembly can participate as a party in these lawsuits is extremely narrow.

This bill expands current law to allow either the House of Representatives or the Senate, or both, to choose to participate as parties in lawsuits in challenging the constitutionality of a state statute. In order for a chamber to participate, affirmative action by the Bipartisan Management Committee (for the House) or Committee on Management Operations (for the Senate) would be required.



Document #1

Introduced as HB1020

Description: Presently, the Attorney General receives formal notice of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a state statute, but no such notice is required to be delivered to the General Assembly. 
 
This bill simply tasks the Attorney General with sharing any notice he receives with the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly, together with a brief description of the allegations and a statement indicating whether the Attorney General will defend the case or authorize another agency to defend the challenged statute. 
 
 

Document #2

Introduced as HB1021

Description: Currently, the grounds on which the General Assembly can participate as a party in these lawsuits is extremely narrow. 
 
This bill expands current law to allow either the House of Representatives or the Senate, or both, to choose to participate as parties in lawsuits in challenging the constitutionality of a state statute.  In order for a chamber to participate, affirmative action by the Bipartisan Management Committee (for the House) or Committee on Management Operations (for the Senate) would be required.