Judiciary Defies the Call for Transparency

Article V Section 10(C) was put on a referendum to the voters in 1968.  It was supposed to give the Pennsylvania Supreme Court “administrative” power over the Judicial Branch. However, the text of the amendment was somewhat ambiguous, and the manner in which the Judiciary began to use this power, exceeded that which the Executive and Legislative Branches had intended.

The Governor at the time, Milton Shapp, signed a law, (cited on the right) – Title 42 Section  1703 – in 1974 in an attempt to bring the Judicial branch under control within the Open Meeting Law, and maintain the checks and balance system of the democracy.

However, using the principle of “judicial review”  (which Thomas Jefferson had warned about), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in an act of defiance – unilaterally repealed the Governors law – and replaced it with the “Sunshine Act” in 1978, exempting themselves from having to open their meetings and processes to the other two branches of government and to the public.

The full effects of this would not be felt until afterwards,  when the courts ruled on their own interpretation of the amendment contrary to what the elected official intended. This is why we now have a “rogue” judiciary – and not an “independent” legal branch. This was systematically done in every state – most likely facilitated by the American Bar Association. 

Original Text:

§ 1703.  Meeting procedures.

The Supreme Court and all other agencies and units of the unified judicial system when exercising the powers to recommend or adopt general rules or other orders in the nature of regulations shall be an agency within the meaning of the act of July 19, 1974 (P.L.486, No.175), referred to as the Public Agency Open Meeting Law.

(Apr. 28, 1978, P.L.202, No.53, eff. 60 days)

1978 Amendment.  Act 53 added section 1703.

Constitutionality.  Section 1703 was declared unconstitutional on November 14, 1978, by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in a letter to the Governor and the General Assembly. See In re 42 Pa.C.S. § 1703, 482 Pa. 522, 394 A.2d 444.

References in Text.  The act of July 19, 1974 (P.L.486, No.175), referred to as the Public Agency Open Meeting Law, referred to in this section, was repealed by the act of July 3, 1986 (P.L.388, No.84), known as the Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act was repealed by the act of October 15, 1998, (P.L.729, No.93). The subject matter is now contained in Chapter 7 of Title 65 (relating to open meetings).


In 1986- the SUNSHINE ACT in Pennsylvania was replaced with the below – but continues to  completely exempt the Judicial Branch: 

CURRENT OPEN MEETING LAWS IN PENNSYLVANIA 

These current laws completely omit lawyers from all outside public oversight.

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