Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane, wildly ambitious and eager to quickly rise in the ranks of nationally known Democratic politicians, has openly abandoned her responsibility to defend the laws of her state, announcing that she will not defend the state as it is under an attack from the ACLU over same-sex marriage. The ACLU has filed suit against Pennsylvania on behalf of twenty-three residents of the state who want to overturn the law banning same-sex marriage.
Kane defended her action by calling the 1996 law “unconstitutional.” That means Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who supports the law, must defend it, because he is named as a defendant, and leaves the state’s general counsel James D. Schultz to handle the state’s case.
Kane endorsed gay marriage last year when she ran for attorney general, but told the Washington Post she was opting out of defending the state “because I endorse equality and anti-discrimination laws. If there is a law that I feel that does not conform with the Pennsylvania state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, then I ethically cannot do that as a lawyer.” Referring to Schultz and Corbett, she said, “I’m not leaving them high and dry. They have their own team.”
Schultz issued a statement saying that he and his coworkers “are surprised that the Attorney General, contrary to her constitutional duty under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, has decided not to defend a Pennsylvania statute lawfully enacted by the General Assembly, merely because of her personal beliefs.” He continued that while they waited for “notification and accompanying legal justification, we will continue to review the lawsuit filed by the ACLU.”
Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, released a statement that articulated Kane’s malfeasance, saying it was
unacceptable for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to put her personal politics ahead of her taxpayer-funded job by abdicating her responsibilities. She is blatantly politicizing the highest law enforcement office in our Commonwealth at the expense of a core responsibility of the Attorney General’s office. Pennsylvanians are left with the question, if Kathleen Kane’s political beliefs are the standard for law enforcement, what law will she ignore next?
Meanwhile, Mary Catherine Roper, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, chortled, “To have the highest law enforcement official of the commonwealth come out and say, ‘I agree with you, this law is unjust, that’s huge for us…We’re ready to roll.”
When Kane was elected last November, she said, “It’s the role of the attorney general to be an independently elected voice. People see politics as a close-knit, good ol’ boy network, and I want to change that starting Day One.”