Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pennsylvania Constitution - limitation on Edmunds analysis

Jubilirer v. Rendell - Pa. Supreme Court - August 19, 2008

This case involves interpreting Article IV, Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which permits the Governor, when presented with an appropriation bill, to delete portions of the language defining a specific appropriation without disapproving the funds with which the language is associated.

It provides that the "Governor shall have power to disapprove of any item or items of any bill, making appropriations of money, embracing distinct items, and the part or parts of the bill approved shall be the law, and the item or items of appropriation disapproved shall be void, unless re-passed according to the rules and limitations prescribed for the passage of other bills over the Executive veto." PA. CONST. art. IV, § 16.

In Commonwealth v. Edmunds, 586 A.2d 887, 895 (Pa. 1991), the court directed litigants to brief and analyze: (1) the relevant text of the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution; (2) the history of the provision, including Pennsylvania caselaw; (3) relevant caselaw from other jurisdictions; and (4) policy considerations). The court said that “it is both important and necessary that we undertake an independent analysis of the Pennsylvania Constitution, each time a provision of that fundamental document is implicated.” Id. at 894-95.

The court limited that analytical model in the instant case, holding that only where a matter calls for "comparative constitutional analysis" of similar state and federal constitutional provisions is Edmunds analysis appropriate.

In cases involving an interpretation of a provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution that lacks a counterpart in the U.S. Constitution , the court has "not engaged in the four-factor analysis set forth in Edmunds....because there is no federal constitutional text or federal caselaw to consider."