After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Pennsylvania GOP to restore the state's "insanely gerrymandered" congressional map on Monday, one Republican decided that the next rational course of action would be to launch an impeachment campaign against the five state justices who deemed the map unconstitutional—a move critics denounced as a "remarkable" attempt to subvert democracy.
"Impeaching judges because one disagrees with a court decision that strengthened democracy is a classic move of authoritarian regimes."
The effort was spearheaded by Republican Pennsylvania state Rep. Cris Dush, who sent a memo attacking the state Supreme Court's 5-2 ruling last month that said the GOP-drawn districts "clearly, plainly, and palpably" violate the state constitution. Many analysts agreed with this interpretation, calling the map one of the most extreme partisan gerrymanders in the nation.
Instead of obeying the court's order to redraw the map ahead of the 2018 midterms, Dush on Monday urged his colleagues to co-sponsor legislation to remove the five Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who struck down the map.
"The five justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office. Wherefore, each is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office or trust or profit under this Commonwealth."
A remarkable subversion of our democracy continues in Pennsylvania. After losing their fight at the Supreme Court, Republicans are now threatening to impeach members of the state Supreme Court who found the congressional map to be an unconstitutional gerrymander. pic.twitter.com/SbrnCwU43Q
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) February 6, 2018
While experts characterized the Pennsylvania GOP's legal arguments for restoring the gerrymandered map as "frivolous," many reacted with alarm to Dush's memo, calling it a "serious threat" because Republicans—thanks to aggressive gerrymandering—hold a strong majority in the state legislature.
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"This is a dangerous disregard for the rule of law by Pennsylvania Republicans," voting rights expert Stephen Wolf argued on Twitter Monday. "Impeaching judges because one disagrees with a court decision that strengthened democracy is a classic move of authoritarian regimes."
Other commentators expressed their agreement with Wolf, calling the impeachment push further evidence that "the Republican Party does not believe in democracy."
We all have to come to terms with the fact that the Republican Party does not believe in democracy and will tear down any American institution if it will help them hold power for 5 seconds longer.https://t.co/sghZq7Eagy
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) February 6, 2018
Woah. This is INSANE. The PA Supreme Court ruled that gerrymandered districts violated the state constitution. So now legislators are proposing to impeach the majority of the justices who ruled against them. https://t.co/NV5HBvJOFc
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) February 6, 2018
rat bastard cheating, it's the Republican way https://t.co/OFy7e1Y5kG
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) February 6, 2018