LGBT

Pennsylvania Lawmaker Wants To Impeach State’s AG For Refusal To Defend Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced July 11, 2013, she would not defend the state’s ban on legal marriage for same-sex couples in court. Her decision is an impeachable offense, according to a Republican lawmaker pushing to remove her from office.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Mark Moran

A Pennsylvania lawmaker will hold a hearing Tuesday on his effort to impeach Attorney General Kathleen Kane for her “misbehavior in office” — including refusing to defend the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in court.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican of Butler County and chair of the House State Government Committee, called for Kane’s impeachment last year, saying, “Attorney General Kane’s repeated violation of her constitutional, statutory and ethical duties cannot be tolerated if our system of government is to work properly.”

Lawmakers on the committee will consider Metcalfe’s amendment to House Resolution 578, a measure originally introduced to honor Kane as the first woman to serve as the state’s attorney general, in which he argues for her impeachment. A vote on the matter is not scheduled. Metcalfe’s prior attempt to push an impeachment resolution, HR 572, stalled in the House Judiciary Committee late last year.

Metcalfe contends Kane violated her oath of office in announcing she would not defend the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which bars same-sex couples from legally marrying, in a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union last July. Additional impeachable offenses, Metcalfe said, include Kane’s decision to close an investigative operation that allegedly details Philadelphia-area lawmakers accepting bribes and gifts, among other charges, according to The Patriot-News.

In October, Kane issued a statement in response to Metcalfe’s call for her impeachment, saying in part, “It is unfortunate that Rep. Metcalfe has such little respect for the people of Pennsylvania. It is also unfortunate and embarrassing that Rep. Metcalfe has such limited knowledge of the laws or perhaps poor understanding of time-tested, clearly enumerated legal principles.”

The committee will hear testimony from a handful of witnesses, including Michael Bekesha, an attorney at Judicial Watch; Joshua Prince, Esq. of Firearms Industry Consulting Group; James N. Clymer, Esq. of Clymer, Musser & Conrad, P.C; and J. Christian Adams, a member of the policy board of the American Civil Rights Union.

Bekesha also testified in support of Metcalfe’s “National Security Begins at Home” Voter ID and immigration law enforcement legislation package before the same committee nearly three years ago. In his prepared testimony on seeking to impeach Kane, Bekesha decried Kane’s decision not to defend the marriage ban and described the attorney general as “lawless.”

“Attorney General Kane’s announcement on July 11, 2013 [to not defend the ban] makes it clear that she believes that she has the authority to create, enforce, and interpret the law,” Bekesha wrote. “In Attorney General Kane’s view, Pennsylvania is a tyranny of one, not a democracy.”

When reached by phone, J. Christian Adams told BuzzFeed his testimony will focus on Kane’s move to close the criminal investigation into the alleged bribes accepted by legislators.

“Whenever an attorney general fails to carry out the oath of office and pursue charges against criminals, you get a real problem with whether she is committed to her office,” Adams said.

To impeach Kane, Metcalfe’s resolution would have to pass in the committee, the full House, and then the Senate would have to convict her after holding a trial. That outcome is unlikely, Rep. Mark Cohen, (D-Philadelphia) told Trib Total Media.

Kane is among several attorneys general in other states, such as Oregon, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, who have refused to defend laws banning marriage for same-sex couples.

Messages were left at Metcalfe’s office seeking additional comment.

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