Pennsylvania House Republicans impeach Democratic Philadelphia prosecutor

Last Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 107 to 85 to impeach Democratic Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. All but one Republican voted for impeachment and all Democrats voted against it except three who were on leave and did not vote.

Krasner, who was reelected last year to a second four-year term as DA of Philadelphia by a wide margin, has been at the center of fascist agitation by Republicans in Pennsylvania and nationally. Donald Trump singled him out as a prime example of “radical left” Democratic support for crime and criminals.

The undemocratic and contrived nature of the impeachment was underscored by the fact that it was conducted by a lame chamber following midterm elections that could potentially transfer control of the legislative chamber to the Democrats. Final results in two hotly contested suburban Philadelphia districts are expected Nov. 23, but on Friday the Associated Press said Democrats had narrowly won at least one of the two and would take control of the State House to the first time in 12 years.

State Republicans say Krasner’s “soft on crime” policies are responsible for an upsurge in gun violence and other crime in the city. In the articles of impeachment, the Republicans list supposed offenses such as the “minimization” or “decriminalization” of petty offenses such as theft, prostitution and possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the promulgation of guidelines sentencing alternatives for low level offenders. Republicans also vilify Krasner for his prosecution of police officers involved in shootings of suspects.

According to Philadelphia Investigator, the state Senate will begin certain “trial-related administrative duties” of Krasner during the lame session and before the new state government takes office. However, with the current legislative session ending Nov. 30, the trial is unlikely to be completed before the current state legislature adjourns.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks about Republican-led efforts to investigate his crime and gun violence record on the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg on Friday, October 21, 2022. [AP Photo/Mark Scolforo]

Conviction and impeachment require a two-thirds vote by the state senate. Republicans have retained control of the state’s upper house, but all Republican senators plus at least five Democrats are expected to vote convict, whether in the current lame session or in the new legislature meeting in January, an unlikely event either way. .

Penn State University law professor Stephen Toss explained the uncharted waters Pennsylvania politics have entered, telling the New York Times, “I’m not aware of any precedent where this has happened, where there’s a lame duck, an impeachment appeal after the fact…and it’s basically up to the Pennsylvania Senate to decide what the rules of procedure are.”

Bruce Ledewitz, professor of constitutional law at Duquesne University, told the Applicant, “There is very little chance here that there is a sufficient legal basis for impeachment and removal.” He noted that the state justice system, where the conflict may end, has the power to stop the impeachment campaign or move it forward.

Impeachment, whether based on fact or not, has rarely been used to deal with political opponents. The last person to be impeached and impeached in the state was Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen in 1994. Some 200 years before this case, judges had been convicted of misconduct in 1811 and 1803.

The use of impeachment shows that there has been no easing of the fierce factional conflict within the capitalist two-party system following the midterm elections. The widely predicted Republican “red wave” failed to materialize, as voters in battleground states such as Pennsylvania defeated most Trump-endorsed Holocaust deniers, while showing little support for their Democratic opponents.

Democrats retained their tight control of the U.S. Senate by flipping a Republican Senate seat, the open seat in Pennsylvania, where Democrat John Fetterman defeated Trump-backed Republican Mehmet Oz. Republicans narrowly ended Democratic control of the House.

Democrats also retained control of the governorship of Pennsylvania, with Attorney General Josh Shapiro defeating Trump-backed Holocaust denier Doug Mastriano.

In their impeachment of Krasner, Republicans resorted to racist dog whistles, clinging to an uptick in gun-related deaths in Philadelphia. Ahead of the midterm elections, they targeted Philadelphia electoral districts in an effort to invalidate thousands of mail-in ballots on the flimsy grounds that they were incorrectly dated, despite arriving on time. in polling stations.

In cynical remarks, Republican Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said his party stood up for “those who have no voice”. He continued: “It’s sad and it doesn’t matter the geography. This should shock all Pennsylvanians. And that is what this resolution is about. He says enough is enough.

After the November 2020 election, Benninghoff was among several dozen state Republicans who called on their representatives in the United States Senate and House to “oppose and vote in support of such an objection to the College votes.” electoral receipts from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” in favor of the Democratic presidential election. candidate Joe Biden.

As Republicans signal that their strategy moving forward is to hobble their political opponents and further attack remnants of democratic rule in America, the Democratic Party is bending to accommodate and offering concessions on behalf of “unity”.

Governor-elect Shapiro and new U.S. Sen. Fetterman are distancing themselves from any ‘progressive’ stance on crime, following Democrats’ nationwide turn against calls to ‘defund the police’ and their de facto abandonment of demands for curbing police violence.

During critical prime time, the pre-election debate between Fetterman and Oz, the supposedly “left-wing” Democrat backtracked on police accountability as well as immigrant rights. Fetterman promoted his pro-police record at a senior center earlier this month, saying he was “proud to work with our police department and fund the police.”

Last Wednesday, Shapiro met publicly with incumbent Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and declined to answer questions about Krasner’s impeachment, saying, “It’s not a matter that comes before the attorney general or the governor.”

As some Democrats in Philadelphia denounced the Republicans’ undemocratic approach, they allocated even more money to defund the police. In June of this year, the Democratic-dominated Philadelphia City Council unanimously approved a substantial budget increase for the Philadelphia Police Department, adding $30 million a year, bringing total funding to more than $788 million.

A 2021 report found that of 9,000 civil complaints against Philadelphia police officers, only 0.5%, or about 45 incidents, resulted in anything other than a simple verbal warning.

The growth of violent crime, like all social phenomena, is rooted in the inequality and poverty produced by the capitalist system. Last year, Philadelphia earned the tragic distinction of having the highest poverty rate of the 25 most populous cities in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, Philadelphia currently has a poverty rate of nearly 20% and a median household income about $15,000 less than the state average.

The defining features of Democratic Party rule for decades in cities like Philadelphia are growing poverty and police repression, which so-called “progressives” like Krasner are pursuing in slightly modified form.

In a September interview with the Atlantic, Krasner briefly touched on the impact of low funding for social programs such as education before turning to gun control as a supposed antidote to crime. “I think a lot of things are causing this. But the main thing I’m talking about is guns,” he said.

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