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If Pennsylvania Votes, Pennsylvania Can Keep Its Non-Lunatic State Supreme Court, As A Treat
Tuesday. Y'all are voting Tuesday, you got it?
There’s a critical election next week in Pennsylvania that remains “under the radar,” which is usually just how Republicans like it. They find it highly inconvenient when people vote.
The state supreme court’s Chief Justice Max Baer passed away in October 2022, leaving a vacancy. Democrats currently hold a 4-2 majority even with the vacancy, but if Republicans pick up the seat, that majority narrows to 4-3, putting Republicans one step closer to flipping the court. That’s bad.
Democratic Superior Court Judge Daniel McCaffery is facing off against Republican Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Carluccio.
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It’s almost amusing how judges use coded language when discussing their judicial philosophies that’s easier to crack nowadays than Pig Latin. Here’s Judge Carluccio serving up some Amy Coney Barrett “I’m a rightwing hack” boilerplate:
“ … I will tell you that I have consistently, in spite of what other people have been putting out there,” Caluccio said in the most obtuse way possible. “… I will apply the law even when I don’t like it, even if I don’t agree with it, doesn’t matter, I will apply the law.”
And Judge McCaffery proudly declared his liberal bonafides:
“I am somebody who believes the Constitution to be a living document,” McCaffery said. “The Constitution was broadly written by our founding fathers to allow for constitutional interpretation, in accordance with changing mores and changing society.”
Since Baer’s death, the court has deadlocked on some key election cases. The Republican National Committee tried to overturn a lower court’s decision that let voters fix errors, such as their signature, on mail ballots. (Republicans insist ballot curing is a form of “fraud” rather than allowing citizens every good-faith attempt to participate in the electoral process.) One Democratic justice sided with the Republicans, but the 3-3 deadlock meant that the lower court’s decision remained in effect. The RNC would obviously try again if a Republican judge is elected and can break the tie.
The high court deadlocked again over another case brought by the RNC demanding that mail ballots that were dated incorrectly, or not at all, should be summarily tossed out. (A Democratic justice again joined Republicans.) Republicans consider this a win because their voters are less likely to vote by mail (thanks to Donald Trump’s Big Lie conspiracy theories; Republicans used to have a mail-ballot advantage).
Republicans have waged an extensive legal war against undated and incorrectly dated ballots. Yes, state law requires ballots are dated, but state law also specifies that election officials must receive the ballots by the close of polls on Election Day. It technically doesn’t even matter if the ballots are dated if they’re received in time. However, Republicans aren’t interested in preventing “fraud” so much as they are suppressing the vote. They don’t really try to hide it.
These suits are all part of a concerted Republican effort to disqualify ballots that are likely Democratic in advance of the upcoming election. They don’t believe in political victory through persuasion but would rather prevail through perfidy.
Carluccio has already stated that she has Susan Collins-level “concerns about the conflicting, and sometimes unclear, undated ballot decisions made by the court in 2023, 2022, and 2020 [about the state’s mail ballots].” She went on, “I believe our laws must be applied as written, and certainly, our election laws must be applied consistently across all counties, regardless of the election year.”
That last bit is dark red meat for the 2020 Lost Cause Trump supporters who argue that Democrats, especially Joe Biden, benefitted from last-minute changes to election laws. They never acknowledge that we were in the middle of the pandemic, pre-vaccine, and voting in person was just not as safe as voting by mail. The new laws applied to everyone, and only Trump is to blame for stupidly spooking his own supporters away from mail ballots.
“Yeah, I think he’s the president,” she quickly added after a “surprised reaction” from an editorial board member. “Obviously, he’s our president. I believe he won the election. There are people in my party who don’t believe that. I do believe that I’ll be very clear about it. And I should have just been more direct in the beginning.”
She later whined that The Philadelphia Inquirer “chopped up” her comment and did not include her full tap-dancing routine, where she added, “I’ve seen no evidence to say that he didn’t win it,” thus providing wiggle room for MAGA cultists who believe such evidence exists. Carluccio eventually conceded, “Joe Biden obviously won the 2020 election and is our president.”
That’s all shameless hedging and Pennsylvania voters who’d like to continue voting should elect McCaffery.
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