In his lawsuit filed with Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, Wolf said the proposed abortion amendment violates privacy protections and that bundling it with four other amendments runs afoul of a rule against passing legislation that addresses multiple, unrelated topics.
Democratic governor Tom Wolf sued the state Legislature Thursday over a package of proposed constitutional amendments, including one that would ban abortions in the state.
The lawsuit, filed with Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, argues that the proposed abortion amendment would violate privacy protections and asks the high court to throw out the amendments for not being constitutionally valid.
Republican lawmakers are attempting to avoid Wolf’s veto pen by sending the measures to the ballot box for voters to decide.
Wolf claims that bundling the abortion amendment together with four others in a bill that passed the General Assembly earlier this month as budget sessions were wrapping up runs afoul of a constitutional rule against passing legislation that addresses multiple, unrelated topics.
The other four amendments would require voter ID, have gubernatorial candidates choose their own running mates, empower lawmakers to cancel regulations without facing a governor’s veto, and establish election audits. Although the House and Senate voted for them as a package, mostly along partisan lines, voters would consider the questions individually.
The lawsuit describes the bill as “a mishmash of changes to at least four different articles of the constitution,” a set of measures Wolf claims “abridges personal liberties and freedoms and alters our current balance of power and constitutional checks and balances.”
Wolf’s lawsuit says the proposed amendments “are exactly the sort of complex changes that require careful deliberation at a constitutional convention prior to a fair and accurate presentation to the electorate.”
Constitutional amendments need to pass both chambers in two consecutive two-year legislative sessions before going to voters for the final say.
The package passed its first round of approvals on July 8, 28-22 in the Senate and 107-92 in the House. After the new session starts in January, lawmakers could vote to put the constitutional amendment referendums before voters as early as the 2023 primary.
Wolf said he took action Thursday because of a requirement that the Department of State advertise the language of proposed amendments after the first round of votes by the House and Senate and at least three months before a fall election. That advertising period starts Tuesday, he said, and is why he also included as a plaintiff his own acting secretary of state, Leigh Chapman.
Republicans have increasingly turned to the constitutional amendment process to accomplish policy objectives that Wolf opposes. In 2021, they successfully got two amendments on the ballot to limit Wolf’s authority during a pandemic emergency, and voters narrowly approved them.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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