The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied Gov. Tom Wolf's petition to hear his challenge of Republican-passed legislation that includes a proposal to amend the state constitution to declare that there is no right to abortion services in the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star has reported.
Wolf, a Democrat, had asked the Supreme Court to use its King's Bench Power to hear the case directly, after the House and Senate passed the legislation during a late-night session in July just before summer recess.
The legislation also proposed changes to the constitution connected to elections, the office of lieutenant governor, voter identification, and election audits.
Since in Pennsylvania, the governor cannot veto a constitutional amendment, Republicans have attempted to circumvent Wolf's veto power by using the constitutional amendment process, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
State Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, a Democrat, said he was disappointed by the court's decision, declaring that "deciding when, whether, and how to have a family is an extremely intimate decision, and not one that legislators ought to be making for people," according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
Costa added that "the GOP's abuse of the constitutional amendment process will cause unnecessary pain and hardship for thousands of Pennsylvania's women and families."
A spokeswoman for GOP Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said in a statement that Senate Republicans were satisfied with the court's decision to reject Wolf's application and that this extraordinary King's Bench power "should not be used to permit or encourage parties to bypass the lower courts in favor of the high court when it suits their end goals," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The General Assembly must now pass the legislation another time in next year's session so that the proposed amendments can go to a referendum that could be on the ballot as early as next year's primary election, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order left open the possibility for Wolf to bring the case to the state's Commonwealth Court, which is ordinarily the first court to hear challenges to state legislation.
A spokeswoman for Wolf said that their office was reviewing the ruling.
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