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Pictured: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf against U.S. flag.
Wolf called the constitutional amendment "repackaged failed legislative agenda." Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images.

Wolf sues the General Assembly over abortion amendment

The Governor and members of the Democratic legislature previously raised serious concerns over the constitutional amendment.

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is pursuing legal action against the state General Assembly over Senate Bill 106, a constitutional amendment introduced by Senate Republicans to ban abortions in the Commonwealth. 

In a scathing 56-page suit, Wolf called the amendment a “disparate proposal” that should be “declared invalid and further action on this defective attempt to fundamentally change our governing charter to be enjoined.”

He goes on to criticize republicans for being “unable to implement their radical agenda through proper legislative channels,” calling SB 106 a “repackaged, failed legislative agenda.”

Wolf’s lawsuit follows the Republican strategy to bypass the Governor’s mansion and directly target the state constitution.. 

“Today I filed a lawsuit against the Republican-led General Assembly for their unconstitutional attempt to ban abortion in PA. To try to get around my veto, they loaded proposed constitutional amendments into Senate Bill 106 and rammed it through during budget negotiations,” Wolf wrote in a statement on Twitter.

In the late hours of July 7, Republicans waived Senate rules on voting and pushed legislation through the Pennsylvania House to effectively amend the State Constitution, a move Democrats repudiated. 

Senate Democrats were the fierce opposition, decrying their colleague’s attempt to pass legislation unchecked. 

PA Republicans previously attempted to outlaw abortions but failed under Wolf’s veto, preventing anti-abortion and trans legislation from gaining safe passage. 

However, advocacy organizations picked up on a shift in Republican strategy by targeting the constitution directly, circumventing Wolf’s veto. Alabama and Virginia managed to ban abortions by successfully introducing constitutional amendments. 

“Amending any constitution is historically rare and should be done to enumerate or affirm, not eliminate our rights,” said Women’s Law Project interim co-director Susan J. Frietsche. 

“Yet leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature are weaponizing a document written to protect our rights to eliminate them, one by one. The Pennsylvania constitution should not be used as a graveyard for failed legislative initiatives,” she added. 

Should the amendment pass the House twice, Republicans would send the matter to voters during an off-year election, which has historically low voter turnout. 

Additionally, Republicans proposed legislation for election audits, held by an independent authority not accountable to the electorate. Legal experts questioned these efforts as a strategic plan targeting voting rights. 

The amendments proposed are part of an intricate strategy to thwart natural democratic processes from proceeding and give way to right-wing legislation that mimics Republican-led states in the nation. 

“SB 106 irreparably and plainly violates Article XI, § 1. This Court should exercise jurisdiction over this important public matter, declare that SB 106 is constitutionally invalid and enjoin further action on the joint resolution,” the lawsuit concludes.

This chain of events also put additional pressure on Pennsylvania’s upcoming gubernatorial elections, which would determine whether there is a Democratic Governor to shield the Commonwealth from a barrage of Republican legislation concerning abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.

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