Pennsylvania Judge Rules To Halt Certification, Says Widespread Mail-In Voting Likely Violated State Constitution

Written by K. Walker on November 28, 2020

This is a massive win for anyone who is concerned about the integrity of elections.

Which seems to be limited to Republicans these days.

Pennsylvania state Judge Patricia McCollough has issued an injunction to prevent the state from taking any further steps in certifying the election results including “appointment of electors and transmission of necessary paperwork to the Electoral College” until further court hearings and rulings are complete.

The case before Judge McCollough was one that hasn’t received much attention because it doesn’t allege election fraud but was focused on the constitutionality of the change in mail-in voting in Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit was filed by several plaintiffs including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R) and Sean Parnell, a GOP congressional candidate who lost his race after the bizarre halt in counting that occurred on election night. You might remember Parnell from our ClashDaily report on the vandalism of his home just days before the election.

Hey Leftists: If The RIGHT Are The Threat To Democracy, Please Explain THIS …

Parnell has not conceded his race and is fighting the questionable practices in Pennsylvania just like President Trump is.

In a rather ballsy move, the lawsuit takes aim at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the entire Pennsylvania General Assembly, Governor Tom Wolf, and Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Kathy Boockvar.

Gregory H. Teufel, an attorney for the plaintiffs, maintained that the complaint seeks to uphold elections in compliance with the state Constitution. The effort attempts not to block the certification of “proper mail-in absentee ballots,” but to prevent certification of results that would include mail-votes out of line with constitutional requirements, he said.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution limits the extent of allowable mail-in voting and requires in-person voting” apart from specific and limited circumstances, Mr. Teufel said. The state received some 266,200 civilian mail-in and absentee ballots for the general election in 2016, the last presidential election year before Act 77 took effect.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The lawsuit was a simple and powerful one — Act 77, the bill that was signed into law in 2019 by Governor Wolf to allow “no-excuse” mail-in voting was itself a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution. It states that Act 77 is unconstitutional on its face because, in the state of Pennsylvania, changes to voting require a constitutional amendment.

Here’s the process for a constitutional amendment.

  •  Pursuant to Article XI, Section 1, a proposed constitutional amendment must be approved by a majority vote of the members of both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions;
  • the proposed amendment must be published for three months ahead of the next general election in two newspapers in each county;
  • it must be submitted to the qualified electors as a ballot question in the next general election and approved by a majority of those voting on the amendment.

Act 77 bypassed all of those steps and was just voted on in the legislature.

This lawsuit is rather significant because it could make all of the “no-excuse” mail-in ballots illegitimate, and would force the General Assembly to establish next steps including how to determine the election results for all of the November 3 races in the state.

Democrats are saying that this will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, Republicans say that Act 77 was passed unconstitutionally.

Republican Attorneys General have been critical of Pennsylvania’s expansion of mail-in voting.

GOP Amicus Brief Urging SCOTUS Ruling Describes ‘Breathtaking Abuse’ In Pennsylvania Mail-In Voting

This just shows that Democrats in Pennsylvania just like Democrats in Congress don’t think much about the Constitution — state or federal — and just impose their will hoping that the courts will vindicate their actions.

Well, not so fast, PA Dems…

According to Legal Insurrection:

The Judge found, among other things, that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their PA constitutional claims, and that the matter was not moot even though PA had “certified” the results, because there were more steps to be taken [emphasis added]:

Accordingly, in careful consideration [on November 25] of the exigencies and time constraints in this matter of statewide and national import, and the longstanding constitutional mandate that every citizen of this Commonwealth is entitled to no less than a fair and free election, it was necessary [on November 25] to preliminarily enjoin, on an emergency and temporary basis, Executive Respondents from undertaking any other actions with respect to the certification of the results of the presidential and vice presidential elections, if indeed anything else needs to be done, pending an evidentiary hearing to ascertain the facts of this matter and to determine if the dispute is moot….

Based upon the record before it, this Court has sufficient grounds to enjoin Respondents from further certification activities on an emergency preliminary basis, pending the results of the evidentiary hearing it had scheduled for this date, after which the Court would have determined if a preliminary injunction should issue.4 Since the Court is sitting in equity it has the power to fashion such relief as it is vitally important that the status quo be preserved pending further judicial scrutiny….

Additionally, Petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because Petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment. Petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene Pa. Const. Article VII Section 14 as the plain language of that constitutional provision is at odds with the mail-in provisions of Act 77. Since this presents an issue of law which has already been thoroughly briefed by the parties, this Court can state that Petitioners have a likelihood of success on the merits of its Pennsylvania Constitutional claim.

You can read the full decision here. 

Legal Insurrection also notes that the judge is unclear on if the ruling does go in the way of the plaintiffs, it may not actually change the results, but it does mean that it could be headed to a much higher court.

Given how the PA Supreme Court has ruled previously on election matters, expanding procedures beyond what even the legislature adopted, I don’t see how this survives the PA Supreme Court. From there, the next stop is the U.S. Supreme Court where we know John Roberts and the three liberal Justice will defer to the state supreme court. But the Court is now 6-3, so a Roberts defection would not result in a 4-4 deadlock again if the 5 conservative Justices voted together.

Source: Legal Insurrection

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ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll