ACLU-PA Position: Oppose
HB 822 (PN 1818) is a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would permit recall elections for an elected officer in a city or county of the first class (i.e., Philadelphia) without requiring that an elected official can only be removed for cause.
Legislators argue that this bill is intended to "fix" a constitutional problem with Philadelphia's recall election procedures. In 1976, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the recall provision in Philadelphia’s home rule charter was unconstitutional because it violates Article VI, Section 7, which requires that public officials can only be removed for cause. There are 26 other counties, cities, boroughs, or townships that have similarly unconstitutional recall provisions in their home rule charters. But this proposed amendment is limited only to Philadelphia.
HB 822 would add a new section to the Pennsylvania Constitution that mirrors Philadelphia’s current recall procedure without the constitutional fix required by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In so doing, HB 822 would carve out Philadelphia elected officials as the only officials who can be whimsically recalled without cause or due process (and likely at a significant cost) in clear contradiction to the current intent of and protections provided by Article VI, Section 7.