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Key Issues for Pennsylvanians: What is at Stake with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

State Courts Project

Pennsylvanians will soon elect a new justice to serve a ten-year term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a court that  regularly decides crucial matters affecting the daily lives of those who live, work, and do business in Pennsylvania.  By way of example, Key Issues for Pennsylvanians: What is at Stake with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court highlights several areas of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision-making.  The influence of this court, or indeed any state court, on issues relating to gun control, marriage, and medical malpractice makes the election for Pennsylvania’s next supreme court justice especially critical.

  • Gun Control: This summer, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court struck down Philadelphia’s assault weapons ban and its gun purchase limit.  The case is likely to be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide whether these gun control restrictions are lawful.
  • Same-Sex Relationships: Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) officially defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, but leaves open many questions for Pennsylvania courts.
  • Healthcare and Medical Malpractice: The state legislature and Governor Rendell recently cut a deal to balance the state’s budget by taking $800 million from Pennsylvania’s MCARE fund, a source that  helps cover expenses doctors face as a result of malpractice lawsuits.  The AMA says that Pennsylvania’s medical crisis is now at an “extreme level” and any reform measures taken by the legislature are likely to come before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

PDF of entire white paper at the bottom of the page.