Why Is Clarification of a Statute to Be Followed by It's Application

In Commonwealth v. Scarpone, 535 Pa. 273, 634 A.2d 1109 (Pa. 1993), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court resolved a conflict between two different intermediate appellate courts on the interpretation of a state criminal statute. See id. at 1112. Answering the U.S. Supreme Court's certified question in Fiore v. White, the state supreme court held that its ruling in Scarpone "merely clarified the plain language of the statute." Fiore v. White, 562 Pa. 634, 757 A.2d 842, 848-49 (Pa. 2000). The U.S. Supreme Court held that due process required application of this clarification to Fiore's conviction despite its finality. Fiore, 531 U.S. at 228-29. This Court's resolution of conflicting district court decisions in a first-time clarification of a statute should not be exempted from the due process requirements of Fiore.