Friday, November 16, 2012

statutes - passage - single-subject - Art. III, sec. 3 - Pa. Constitution

Sernovitz v.  Dershaw-   Pa. Super. November 14, 2012


Statute barring claim for "wrongful life" held to be unconstitutional because of violation of the single-subject rule of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article III, sec. 3, which states that

“No bill shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title, except a general appropriation bill or a bill codifying or compiling the law or a part thereof.” PA. CONST. art. III, § 3.7 The purpose of the creation of Article III was “to place restraints on the legislative process and encourage an open, deliberative and accountable government.” City of Philadelphia v. Commonwealth, 575 Pa. 542, 573, 838 A.2d 566, 585 (2003) (citation omitted).

This Article was included in the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1874, which was drafted in an atmosphere of extreme distrust of the legislative body and of fear of the growing power of corporations, especially the great railroad corporations. It was the product of a convention

whose prevailing mood was one of reform[.] […] [A]s these mandates survived the more recent constitutional revisions, they continue to reflect important policies relating to the nature of the deliberative process. Id. at 573-74, 838 A.2d at 585-86 (internal citations and quotations
omitted).

The single-subject requirement of Article III, Section 3 serves a variety of purposes, including: (1) preventing the attachment of unpopular riders that would not become laws on their own to popular bills that are sure to pass;8 (2) providing for a more considered review of bills brought before the General Assembly, as a bill addressing a variety of subjects is less likely to get such attention; and (3) protecting the integrity of the Governor’s veto power.9 Id. at 574, 575 n.18, 838 A.2d at 586, 586 n.18.

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