Hearings began Thursday morning in the Pennsylvania Voter ID case. This case is of special interest to elder practitioners because home-bound elderly are felt to be disproportionally affected by the law. Although the senior in your neighborhood might be able to walk a few blocks to the local polling place, it is more difficult to get to one of the centers that issue the ID.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is obligated to hear appeals from cases that start in the Commonwealth Court as well as death penalty cases. They also regulate and discipline attorneys in the commonwealth. Otherwise, their review is discretionary.
The Voter ID case is an appeal of a matter that started in the Commonwealth Court. And by the way, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has what is known as "Kings Bench Power" to hear any case filed in any court in the Commonwealth as they see fit, whether or not an appeal has been taken. This is done on average, three times per year.
Although the main courtroom for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is located in Harrisburg, the court does travel throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to hear cases. There is one such Supreme Court room on the 4th floor of City Hall in Philadelphia.
The court made a special exception to allow televising of this case. The courtroom at City Hall is small, so they televised the case and allowed people to hear the case in other courtrooms equipped with sound and a large screen.
For a list of all the briefs filed in the voter ID case, go here. Hearings are expected to last at least throughout the day, and the hearings are open to the general public (although you may have to sit in an adjoining courtroom and watch the hearing on television).
If you go, remember that you will have to pass through security consisting of metal detectors and examination of bags and other items you bring with you.
Stay well until the next post,
Bob Gasparro is an elder practitioner (accountant and attorney). He can be reached at Robert.Gasparro@lifespanlegal.com or (484) 297-2050. Comments to this post, and ideas for future posts are welcome.