A Republican state representative in Pennsylvania is circulating a memo calling for the impeachment of the state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, for her “misbehavior in office” and “violation of her constitutional, statutory, and ethical duties.” Earlier, a Republican state senator also called for her impeachment and asked the legislature to reduce her office’s budget.
Kane recently said that she “cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA” because “it is wholly unconstitutional.”
The state representative proposing impeachment, Daryl Metcalfe, recently stopped an openly gay colleague from speaking in favor of marriage equality on the state house floor after the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on marriage, saying is colleague was in “rebellion against God’s law.” Metcalfe even opposed a resolution condemning domestic violence because he feared it would advance the “homosexual agenda.”
All public officials in Pennsylvania swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of this Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Attorneys Act imposes a mandatory duty on the Attorney General to defend the constitutionality of lawfully enacted statutes in any challenge filed in court.
Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane recently made a public declaration that she would not defend a federal lawsuit challenging the statutory definition of marriage. Ironically, Attorney General Kane explained that she could not “ethically” defend a law that she believed to be “wholly unconstitutional,” but making such a public statement that hinders the defense of the litigation violates the ethics rules that all attorneys are bound to follow.
In the near future, I will be introducing a resolution containing articles of impeachment against Attorney General Kane. Impeachment is a rarely used, but extremely important, tool to address misbehavior in office. Attorney General Kane’s violation of her constitutional, statutory, and ethical duties cannot be tolerated if our system of government is to work properly.
Attorney General Kane’s refusal to follow the law already led to further violations of the law when the Montgomery County Register of Wills cited Kane’s decision as a reason to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When the Commonwealth Court entered an order that stopped this practice, the Court reiterated the well-established principle that every act of the legislature is presumptively constitutional until a court declares otherwise. Attorney General Kane has created a constitutional crisis by refusing to perform her assigned role and usurping the role of the courts.
It is our duty to stop her from engaging in further misbehavior in office.