HARRISBURG — Today, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court affirmed in a 6-1 decision a ruling by the Commonwealth Court that the proposed Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment violated the state Constitution when it was presented as a single question in a 2019 voter referendum.
The Pennsylvania Constitution makes clear that any changes to the document that affect more than one section of the constitution, or which constitute multiple subjects that are not sufficiently interrelated, must be considered as separate amendments.
“In this year of seemingly unending attacks on our democracy, we applaud the state Supreme Court for shutting down this clear attempt by the Legislature to mislead voters,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This lawsuit has always been about voting rights and how the state constitution is amended. The legislature attempted to do too much at once, which is prohibited to keep voters from being overwhelmed or misled. We are grateful that the court ruled the right way on this important principle.”
This ruling marks the end of litigation over the Marsy’s Law ballot question; the decision cannot be appealed to the United States Supreme Court because it raises only issues of state law.
The initial lawsuit was filed in October 2019 on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and an individual, Lorraine Haw of Philadelphia. The plaintiffs were represented by Mary Catherine Roper, formerly of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Andrew Christy of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Steven Bizar, Michael McGinley, Tiffany E. Engsell, and Craig J. Castiglia of Dechert LLP. Intervenor Ronald Greenblatt was represented by Michael Gehring of Steve Harvey Law LLC.
More information about the case is available at aclupa.org/ML-lawsuit.