HARRISBURG (Feb. 23, 2010) - Pennsylvania Bar Association President Clifford E. Haines today announced the creation of the PBA Constitutional Review Commission and charged it with conducting a thorough review of the state's Constitution and making recommendations to improve the structure and operation of government in the commonwealth.
"Government in the Keystone State clearly is not working for Pennsylvanians," Haines said during a media conference in the state Capitol Rotunda. "In rapidly changing times and conditions, our citizens should have the opportunity to call for a reexamination of the effectiveness and structure of their government. The Pennsylvania Bar Association, which had a leadership role in the convening of the limited constitutional convention in 1967-1968, stands ready to assist with this reexamination."
Haines appointed former Commonwealth Court President Judge James Gardner Colins of the Philadelphia law firm of Cozen O'Connor to chair the 30-member commission, which will focus its efforts specifically on the areas of legislative reapportionment, local government, public education, the structure of the General Assembly, and taxation and the uniformity clause. The commission will hold its inaugural meeting today in Mechanicsburg.
"This commission brings together some of the best legal minds in the state - constitutional scholars, practicing lawyers, sitting judges and public policy experts," said Colins. "As members of the legal profession or citizens who work closely with the justice system, these men and women deal with constitutional issues every day and, therefore, are uniquely qualified to study the complex constitutional issues that confront our state government."
Upon a two-thirds vote of its members, the commission may consider additional areas of the Constitution for review, but the PBA House of Delegates, the organization's policy-making body, said the commission may not consider any change that would reduce or eliminate the protections provided by the Declaration of Rights in Article I.
The commission will have eighteen months to prepare a written report for submission to the PBA House of Delegates for its acceptance and approval. The commission also was charged with making recommendations on how any constitutional changes would be implemented, either by legislation, by the amendment process or by consideration of delegates at any convened Constitutional Convention, if applicable.
In addition to Colins, commission members are: Cynthia A. Baldwin, Duane Morris L.L.P., Pittsburgh; Andrew B. Cantor, Wisler Pearlstine Talone Craig Garrity & Potash L.L.P., Blue Bell; Donna Cooper, Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg; Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia; Dr. Joel Fishman, Pittsburgh; Richard H. Galloway, Galloway Monzo P.C., Greensburg; John L. Gedid, professor, Widener University School of Law, Harrisburg; Gerald C. Grimaud, Tunkhannock; John A. Hanna, Indiana; Joann M. Jofery, Sharon; Judge Thomas King Kistler, Centre County Court of Common Pleas, Bellefonte; Stephanie F. Latimore, Legislative Reference Bureau, Harrisburg; Michael E. Libonati, professor, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia; Rep. Kathy Manderino, Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Keith B. McLennan, Miller Turetsky Rule & McLennan P.C., Collegeville; Leslie Anne Miller, Leslie Anne Miller L.L.C., Philadelphia; Frederick R. Mogel, Mogel, Speidel Bobb & Kershner P.C., Reading; Keith Mooney, Barley Snyder L.L.C., Reading; Rhoda Shear Neft, Pittsburgh.
Also Arthur L. Piccone, Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn P.C., Kingston; Clifford A. Rieders, Rieders Travis Humphrey Harris Waters & Waffenschmidt, Williamsport; Steven E. "Tim" Riley, Conner Riley Friedman & Weichler, Erie; Carol A. Shelly, Mellon Webster & Shelly P.C., Doylestown; Jane M. Shields, MacElree Harvey Ltd., West Chester; Andrew F. Susko, White and Williams L.L.P., Philadelphia; Laura Christine Tallarico, Lancaster County Public Defenders' Office, Lancaster; Rhodia D. Thomas, executive director, MidPenn Legal Services, Harrisburg; Judge John W. Thompson Jr., York County Court of Common Pleas, York; and Lisa M.B. Woodburn, Angino & Rovner P.C., Harrisburg.
Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 29,000 lawyers who are members of the association.