Republican chief justice of Pa. Supreme Court scolds GOP over impeachment threat

Republican chief justice of Pa. Supreme Court scolds GOP over impeachment threat
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The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court scolded Republican state lawmakers on Thursday, after they filed impeachment resolutions against four Democratic justices over the court's decision on the state's congressional map.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican, said in a statement that he was concerned by the impeachment resolutions, which he called "an attack upon an independent judiciary."

"Threats of impeachment directed against Justices because of their decision in a particular case are an attack upon an independent judiciary, which is an essential component of our constitutional plan of government," he said.

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A dozen Republicans in the Pennsylvania state House moved on Tuesday to impeach four of the court's five Democratic justices, filing articles of impeachment alleging that they exceeded their authority in striking down Pennsylvania's congressional map.

The court had previously ruled that the map had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Saylor and Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's only other Republican, both opposed that ruling.

After the court ruled in January that the congressional map was unconstitutional, it gave state lawmakers three weeks to come up with a new map. Those efforts eventually failed, however, prompting the court to issue its own map. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice declined requests from Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania to block the new map from taking effect.

The new map is intended to create more parity between Republicans and Democrats in Pennsylvania's congressional races, and could give Democrats a chance to pick up some seats in the upcoming midterm elections.