Standing to Strike Down a Ballot Question

In Bergdoll v. Kane, 557 Pa. 72, 731 A.2d 1261, 1268 (1999), the Supreme Court upheld this Court's conclusion that Bergdoll, Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) and individual members of the PBA had standing to maintain a declaratory action to strike down a ballot question which proposed changes to the Constitution relating to the conduct of criminal trials. In that case, the PBA, Bergdoll and other attorneys who were also taxpayers and electors of the Commonwealth, asserted that the proposed amendment to the Constitution would change the rights of persons accused of crimes to confront witnesses against them and allow the General Assembly to enact laws regarding the manner in which children may testify in criminal proceedings, including the use of video tape depositions and testimony by closed-circuit television. According to the PBA and Bergdoll, this, in effect, amended Article V, Section 10(c) of the Pennsylvania Constitution which vests exclusive authority in the Supreme Court over the practice and procedure in our courts. The Supreme Court agreed that the manner in which testimony is to be received in court and the choice of the procedures to be employed were procedural matters and within its exclusive rule making authority. Because Bergdoll and other individual members of PBA would have been directly impacted by the proposed amendment, and were sworn to defend the Pennsylvania Constitution, our Supreme Court concluded that they had demonstrated a substantial, direct and immediate interest and had standing to bring suit.