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Philly DA Files Suit to Block Unconstitutional Attack on His Authority & Philly Voters

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PHILADELPHIA (January 11, 2024) – The Philadelphia District Attorney on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Attorney General to block implementation of Act 40, an unprecedented assault on a locally elected official’s authority and on the rights of voters in the most populous and racially diverse county in the Commonwealth.

Act 40 is the product of legislation written by a Republican senator whose district in Cambria, Centre, and Clearfield counties is far closer geographically to Allegheny County than Philadelphia County, and who has baldly stated its intent is to usurp the authority of the elected district attorney in Philadelphia County only. District Attorney Larry Krasner has been duly elected by Philadelphia voters twice – most recently in 2021 by a whopping 44% margin.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General who is authorized to appoint a “special prosecutor” for SEPTA – which in effect would cover nearly all of Philadelphia County – is a political appointee who was not chosen by voters.

“Act 40 discriminates against Philadelphia; it favors other counties and their voters because the Special Prosecutor has no such unilateral authority over district attorneys in other counties,” said John S. Summers of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, who is representing the Philadelphia DA’s Office in litigation against the AG’s Office. “Indisputably, Act 40 is a radical and unprecedented measure; our research has uncovered no comparable law in the history of the Commonwealth that so unconstitutionally and undemocratically undermines a single district attorney’s law enforcement authority.”

In addition to being plainly unconstitutional and unenforceable in practice, Act 40 imposes all costs associated with a “special prosecutor” upon the City of Philadelphia – which did not request or support the legislation while it was folded into state budget negotiations in Harrisburg.

Meanwhile, transit advocates expressed outrage that Act 40 was used as a Republican bargaining chip during state budget negotiations, while legislation that would have raised $295 million to address SEPTA’s massive operating deficit was left out of the final deal signed by Governor Josh Shapiro. Consequently, SEPTA is expected to soon announce major service cuts that will negatively impact the nearly 700,000 passengers who rely on the transit system every week.

“For years, we have known about the impending transit funding cliff facing SEPTA and other agencies across our Commonwealth. Without help from Harrisburg, riders in our region will face massive service cuts and fare increases in the coming months. Stranding thousands of riders, worsening traffic congestion, and hampering Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from COVID,” said Steph Davis, chair of the nonpartisan transit advocacy organization 5th Square. “Pennsylvanians who depend on frequent and reliable service from SEPTA did not ask lawmakers in Harrisburg for Act 40. A politically-motivated attack on Philly’s democratically-elected District Attorney does not help SEPTA, its workers, or the nearly 700,000 riders who rely on the regional transit system every week.”

“This law effectively denies Philly voters of their right to elect their prosecutor. The members of the PA Senate and the PA House who voted for this legislation do not believe that Philadelphians should have that right,” said the Philly Transit Riders Union in a statement. “We strongly believe that Governor Josh Shapiro should have been working hard to pass something that actually matters – funding for public transit. Transit riders statewide are waiting for the governor to sign into law legislation that will be transformative and life changing.”

DA Krasner’s petition for relief in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania can be found on the Philly DAO’s website: A press conference announcing the lawsuit featuring DA Krasner and his legal counsel; state senator & PA Democratic Party chair Sharif Street; City Councilmembers Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large), Rue Landau (At-Large), and Jamie Gauthier (3rd District); Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler of Mother Bethel AME and Bishop Dwayne Royster of POWER Philadelphia; and other supporters of racial and social justice can be found on the Philly DAO’s YouTube page.

Civil rights activists and Black journalists who have spoken out against Act 40 include Denise Clay-Murray (A Question of Trust), Michael Coard (Republicans Disenfranchise Black Philly Voters by Attacking Krasner), and Solomon Jones (The racist message at the heart of Pennsylvania’s new Act 40).

Editorials, court filings, and other documents related to the GOP’s failed effort to impeach and remove DA Krasner are available here.

Jane Roh, 215-686-8711, [email protected]


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

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