PHILADELPHIA (January 13, 2023) – An opinion and order released by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania rejected attempts by Republicans in the General Assembly to use the impeachment process to remove the District Attorney of Philadelphia from office for political reasons.
District Attorney Larry Krasner stated, “The Commonwealth Court ruling is a victory for Philly voters, whose votes still count no matter how hard some politicians try to erase them. The order and opinion are also a victory for all of us in Pennsylvania and across the United States who believe in and cherish popular democracy. Violent insurrection, voter suppression, election denialism, and efforts to vacate elections you lose by engaging in recalls and bogus investigations and impeachments are authoritarian, un-democratic tactics that no American should accept.”
DA Krasner added, “The people, when united, are more powerful than any power-hungry authoritarian. You cannot impeach the people. The people insist — and will work to ensure — that elections in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are free, fair, and final.”
The Commonwealth Court’s 12/30/22 Order and 1/12/23 Opinion provide further support for DA Krasner’s repeated argument that the effort to impeach him and remove him from office is an illegal assault on democracy aimed at erasing votes in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to cancel DA Krasner’s previously scheduled impeachment trial date of 1/18/22. DA Krasner was elected by a wide margin in 2017 and was re-elected by a landslide with historically high voter turnout in 2021.
The impeachment effort arose shortly before the November 2022 midterm elections and coincided with a national MAGA strategy to elect anti-democracy candidates on a racist, anti-LGBTQ+ platform that weaponized fear of urban crime rather than offer solutions. That strategy arose in the context of the 1/6/21 MAGA-led insurrection, and ongoing and sweeping GOP efforts to suppress votes and refuse to concede elections they lose. The MAGA strategy utterly failed in 2022, resulting in historic midterm victories and holds by the incumbent party in the White House.
DA Krasner and a wide of array of Philadelphia voters and reform-minded groups have consistently maintained that the impeachment effort was of a piece with longstanding attempts in the United States to disenfranchise voters who are poor, Black, and people of color. The ACLU of Pennsylvania and POWER Interfaith joined the Philly DA’s Office in its legal fight against impeachment.
The Commonwealth Court’s Order and Opinion declare that DA Krasner’s reform policies and ideas on criminal justice are not a basis for an impeachment and that none of the Articles of Impeachment allege any conduct by Krasner that constitutes what is required for impeachment: “misbehavior in office.” The Opinion explicitly rejects the Republican legislators’ position that:
“any misbehavior in office,” in terms of the impeachment process, is whatever the General Assembly deems it to be; in other words, it is a political offense, not a criminal one. [p. 34, emphasis added]
A concurring opinion (a separate opinion in agreement with the main opinion) suggests to the elected officials behind the impeachment effort that their costly, taxpayer-funded effort at an impeachment trial (which is referred to as a “folly”) may result in their being voted out of office:
Ultimately, it is for the electors of the Commonwealth to decide if this folly has been a wise use of legislative resources, just as it is for the electors of Philadelphia to decide if Petitioner is properly discharging his duties as District Attorney. [p. 5, emphasis added]
Of the four judges involved in the Order Opinion, only one filed a dissent. Even so, the dissenting judge agreed that the meaning of “misbehavior in office” sufficient to justify impeachment is a constitutional matter for the courts to consider — it is not simply up to the legislature to determine. No judge expressed agreement with Republican lawmakers’ claims that the Articles of Impeachment they drafted against DA Krasner allege conduct that constitutes misbehavior in office. https://linktr.ee/phillydalarrykrasner.DA Krasner’s legal filings on the impeachment and other documents are available here:
CONTACT:[email protected]Jane Roh, 215-686-8711,
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually. Learn more about the DAO by visiting PhillyDA.org.