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LEAGUE WOMEN VOTERS LOWER MERION AND NARBERTH v. LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP BOARD COMMISSIONERS (ET AL. (03/16/73)

decided: March 16, 1973.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF LOWER MERION AND NARBERTH
v.
LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS (ET AL., APPELLANT)



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 72-10841, in case of League of Women Voters of Lower Merion and Narberth et al. v. The Board of Commissioners of Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania et al.

COUNSEL

Thomas N. O'Neill, Jr., with him Kirk T. Karaszkiewicz, and Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, for appellant.

Sondra K. Slade, with her William P. Manning, Jr., J. Grant McCabe, III, Crawford & Diamond, and Wright, Spencer, Manning & Sagendorph, for appellees.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: O'brien

[ 451 Pa. Page 27]

On June 19, 1972, Lower Merion Township Ordinance No. 1670 became effective. The ordinance reapportioned

[ 451 Pa. Page 28]

    the fourteen wards of the township in accordance with Article IX, § 11 of the Constitution of this Commonwealth. Prior to the effective date of the ordinance, appellant, C. Dale McClain, was an elected commissioner representing Ward 10 of the township, wherein he resided. The shifting of the boundaries occasioned by the ordinance placed appellant's residence in Ward 5. Prior to the effective date of the ordinance, appellant took title to a residence in Ward 1, into which he moved shortly after the ordinance became effective.

On July 15, 1972, the Board of Commissioners appointed a new commissioner for Ward 10, as it was reconstituted by Ordinance 1670, but permitted appellant to remain as an at-large commissioner, thus giving the fourteen-ward township fifteen commissioners. Appellees requested that the attorney general institute quo warrantor proceedings to disqualify appellant from his office, due to the fact that he was no longer a resident of the ward from which he was elected. This request was denied. Appellees then requested the district attorney of Montgomery County to institute quo warrantor proceedings. This request was also denied. Appellees then filed a complaint in equity, seeking the disqualification of appellant as a commissioner.

The chancellor entered a decree nisi, enjoining appellant from serving as a commissioner. Lower Merion Township and the individual commissioners filed an answer and new matter and exceptions to the decree nisi. After argument, the court en banc entered a final decree continuing the injunction permanently and this appeal followed.

Appellees claim that the appeal concerns "the application, interpretation or enforcement of [an] act of the General Assembly regulating the affairs of political subdivisions," and thus properly belongs in the Commonwealth Court, under § 402 of the Appellate Court

[ 451 Pa. Page 29]

Jurisdiction Act, Act of July 31, 1970, P. L. 673, art. I, § 101 et seq., 17 ...


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