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KAREN A. RITTER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/13/88)

decided: October 13, 1988.

KAREN A. RITTER, BABETTE JOSEPHS, AND ANDREW J. CARN, STATE REPRESENTATIVES, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND THE HONORABLE ROBERT CASEY, AS GOVERNOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENTS



Original Jurisdiction in the case of Karen A. Ritter, Babette Josephs and Andrew J. Carn, State Representatives v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Honorable Robert Casey, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Robert F. Williams, for petitioners.

Gregory R. Neuhauser, Senior Deputy Attorney General, with him, Kate L. Mershimer, Deputy Attorney General, John G. Knorr, III, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.

Stefan Presser, for intervenor, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry, Colins and McGinley. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge MacPhail.

Author: Crumlish

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 375]

Seven members of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania*fn1 (petitioners) have filed a petition for review in this Court's original jurisdiction, 42 Pa. C.S. § 761(a), seeking a declaration that the passage of Act 31 of 1988 (Act 31) violated Article III, Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Commonwealth Constitution.*fn2 Named as respondents are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Honorable Robert Casey, as Governor of the Commonwealth. The parties have filed stipulations of fact with this Court, and each has filed a motion for summary judgment seeking relief.

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 376]

Act 31, as enacted by the General Assembly, amended various chapters of the Crimes Code, 18 Pa. C.S. §§ 101-9183, by providing for rights of a district attorney in litigation involving prisoners; providing additional penalties for underage drinking and sale of alcohol to minors; providing additional penalties for drug trafficking to minors; providing penalties for the scattering of rubbish; and regulating matters relating to the performance and funding of abortions. Act 31 originated in the House of Representatives as House Bill (H.B.) 668. The bill consisted of twelve pages legislating underage drinking and was first approved by the House Committee on Liquor Control. After passage by the entire House, H.B. 668 was partially amended (as to those provisions relating to underage drinking) on the Senate Floor, and the bill was referred to a Senate Committee.

When H.B. 668 was again considered on the Senate floor, amendments were offered and approved. Additionally, a section establishing a system of earned time for prisoners leading to early release from prison was included in H.B. 668. The entire bill, as amended, returned to the House for concurrence. Under House Rule 30, amendments may not be offered to Senate amendments of House bills which return to the House on a question of concurrence. By majority vote, the House temporarily suspended its rules and deleted the parole legislation, but passed the remainder of H.B. 668, as amended, by a vote of 147-44. Governor Casey signed the bill on March 25, 1988.

Article III, Sections 1, 2 and 3 of our Constitution prescribe certain restrictions on the passage of laws by the General Assembly. Section 1 provides that no law shall be passed except by bill, which cannot be so altered or amended on passage through either House as to change its original purpose. Section 2 states that no bill can be considered unless referred to a committee,

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 377]

    returned therefrom, and printed for the use of the members. Section 3 establishes that no bill shall be passed containing more than one subject, expressed clearly in the title, except a general appropriation bill or a bill codifying or compiling the law or a part thereof.

The petitioners argue that the five distinct areas legislated are so different in purpose and substance that Act 31 contains more than one subject and was passed in drastic alteration of its original purpose. Additionally, the petitioners argue that failure of the abortion provisions to be reported out-of-committee violates Article III, Section 2. Petitioners request that Act ...


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