Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Judicial Supremacy Smacks Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a “Rust Belt” state that found a new source of jobs with development of the Marcellus Shale, a vast deposit of underground natural gas. Thanks to a process called "fracking" that extracts natural gas, many struggling Pennsylvania towns are undergoing an economic revival. Adjacent New York and New Jersey ban fracking due to pressure by environmentalists, but the Republican legislature in Pennsylvania passed a law prohibiting local town ordinances from interfering with it.

The result is many good new jobs, and lower energy prices for consumers. Pennsylvania’s energy production has increased to supply 10% of our nation’s needs. Pennsylvanians are better off from the new jobs, and all Americans benefit, thanks to the lower cost of natural gas that heats many homes during this cold winter.

But wait. Environmentalists oppose useful energy production, and they want fracking stopped in Pennsylvania just as it has been banned in other northeastern states.

And voila, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court became the judicial supremacists that the environmentalists wanted, by striking down, in Robinson Township vs. Commonwealth, a 2012 state law that welcomed the energy development. The Court relied on an “Environmental Rights Amendment” to the Pennsylvania Constitution, which vaguely guarantees “a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.” That feel-good language became a blank check in the hands of judicial supremacists eager to override what the people’s elected legislators had passed as law. This decision was only 4-2, with one Justice recusing herself. The dissenting Justices expressed their dismay at how the Court usurped the role of the legislature, observing that it is not the role of the courts to act legislatively.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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