Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pay raise payback: Vote out Nigro, Newman

With the exception of the liberal Reading Eagle, which loves the establishment, almost everyone in the state is onboard with the campaign to oust Supreme Court Justices Russel Nigro and Sandra Schultz Newman, who are seeking retention in the Nov. 8, 2005, ballot. These two judges are part of the problem with Pennsylvania government and should be the first casualties of the people's revolution to retake the state from greedy, arrogant politicians. Tim Potts makes a convincing case below for voting NO for Nigro and Newman.

Make Election Day ‘Rejection Day’ for Newman, Nigro

What do you call it when someone takes your money without your knowledge or permission?

Honest people call it theft. Our governor, our legislators and our judges call it a pay raise.

That’s why people everywhere are angry. Because our political leaders treated us like nothing but walking wallets instead of citizens in a democracy.

Well we don’t have to wait until next year to strike back.

We can cast our first vote against the pay raise on November 8 by voting against two people who are already taking the pay raise. And they’re not even using so-called "unvouchered expenses."

They are Supreme Court Justices Sandra Shultz Newman and Russell Nigro. On Nov. 8, we get to decide whether they stay on our Supreme Court and keep getting the pay raise.

What do they have to do with the pay raise? Everything.

Our General Assembly enacts laws like the pay raise in the dead of night when we don’t — and can’t — know what they’re doing because our Supreme Court, including Newman and Nigro, has told them it’s OK.

Time after time, our Supreme Court has said it’s OK to make us pay for laws that we know nothing about until it’s too late. Time after time, our Supreme Court has said that the Constitution doesn’t mean what it plainly says.

What does the Constitution say? Among other things, it says that proposed laws must be considered on three different days in the House and three different days in the Senate. That’s six days total.

That seems clear enough. But our legislature and Supreme Court, including Newman and Nigro, have tortured this plain language to allow a bait-and-switch game where they tell us they’re going to do one thing, then suddenly do something completely different.

We’ve seen it year after year. Last year, it was the gambling law. It started out as a two-page bill and ended up in a matter of hours — not six days — as a 146-page law that is making Pennsylvania the slot machine capital of the east coast.

What did the original bill have in common with the final law?

Nothing. Not one single word. It’s classic bait-and-switch. A retail business couldn’t get away with that. Why should our governor and our legislature and our Supreme Court?

Yet on June 22 our Supreme Court said it was perfectly OK.

And what happened just 18 days later? Governor Rendell and the General Assembly, with the cooperation of Chief Justice Ralph Cappy, did exactly the same thing with the pay raise.

It started out as a 24-line proposal to limit salaries in the executive branch. But in a matter of minutes, it became a 22-page law to increase salaries in all three branches of government. And not one word of the original bill ended up in the final law.

So with both the gambling law and the pay raise, the only thing that got six full days of consideration was a blank sheet of paper.

It’s time to appeal to the Court of Common Sense.

It’s time to declare that anyone who thinks a blank sheet of paper is the same thing as a huge law doesn’t have the common sense or the judgment to sit on our Supreme Court.

The court says it owes "deference" to the legislature.

Wrong. The court owes deference to the people. The people are the sovereigns, and the legislators are the servants. Anyone like Newman and Nigro who doesn’t know the difference between sovereigns and servants has no business on the Supreme Court.

The court says it must "presume" that the legislature acts according to the Constitution.

Wrong. The court must "presume" that the Constitution means what it plainly says, not what legislators torture it to mean to suit their political ends.

Anyone like Newman and Nigro who can’t enforce the plain meaning of the Constitution in order to protect the people from abuse by their government has no business on the Supreme Court.

On Nov. 8, use your vote to say "yes" to representative democracy and "no" to Newman and Nigro.

Use your vote to say "yes" to a government that treats us with respect and "no" to Newman and Nigro.

Use your vote to say "yes" to our Constitution and "no" to Newman and Nigro.

Remember: Our political leaders won’t change their behavior until we change our behavior.

So let’s change some behavior by voting Newman and Nigro "No!"

Timothy Potts is a former press secretary and director of communications for the Pennsylvania House Democrats. E-mail him at

No comments: