Provision Reporting to Remove from Office Persons Who Failed to File Statements

In Kremer v. State Ethics Commission, 503 Pa. 358, 469 A.2d 593 (1983), a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge filed a declaratory judgment action in the Commonwealth Court's original jurisdiction challenging the application of the Ethics Law to members of the judiciary. The Commonwealth Court concluded that the law was unconstitutional as applied to the judiciary because it violated the doctrine of separation of powers. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed, with a dissent from Justice Hutchinson, who agreed that a specific provision reporting to remove from office persons who failed to file statements was unconstitutional because the Constitution provided the sole method for removing judicial officers. Justice Hutchinson further opined, however, that a requirement to file, imposed on all public officials, did not intrude on judicial functions. Justice Hutchinson noted that to the extent the removal provisions invalidated the act as to the judiciary, he would adopt, as a matter of comity, the disclosure provisions of the Act and require the judiciary to observe them to the same extent as other public officials. Since Kremer, the Supreme Court has adopted Justice Hutchinson's suggestion by requiring such disclosure of financial interests by filing with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC).