- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s highest ranking jurist said Monday he has “absolutely no view” on whether the state’s attorney general should resign from office, one week after the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended the top prosecutor’s law license.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor told the Pennsylvania Press Club that the court has no ability to remove Kane or any other high-ranking government official from their posts.

“That’s not what we do,” Saylor said, noting those powers are held by the Legislature and governor.

The 5-0 decision to suspend the first-term Democrat does not prevent her from continuing to serve as attorney general, Saylor said, and he emphatically declined to offer an opinion about whether she should step down.

“I have absolutely no view on that,” said Saylor, a Republican. “I think that’s purely a personal matter for her.”

Kane awaits trial on criminal charges she leaked secret grand jury information to a newspaper and then lied to cover it up. She said last week that if her license remains suspended, that would probably be a barrier to her plans to seek re-election in 2016.

“An attorney who’s attorney general and is suspended is still a member of the bar of the Supreme Court,” as required under the constitution, Saylor said. “The fact of the interim suspension is in no way constitutionally disabling.”

Asked about the fairness of suspending Kane while she faces criminal allegations, Saylor said the justices had a detailed petition from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to consider, and Kane’s attorneys filed an extensive reply.

Kane also has the ability to request a full hearing before the Disciplinary Board, Saylor said, but she apparently has not done so.

Saylor said the pornographic email scandal in which employees of the attorney general’s office were sending and receiving explicit or objectionable content was a “moral lesson” about the types of relationships judges should have with others.

Justice Seamus McCaffery quit the Supreme Court last year after his role in the emails was made public.

Judges have to ensure “that they don’t do it some fashion that will cause somebody to question how close that relationship is, or the lack of objectivity,” Saylor said. “I think that is a good moral lesson for people to keep in mind. You enjoy friendships, you keep relationships, but judges have their job to do, prosecutors have their job to do.”

He did not express an opinion about whether Pennsylvania should move away from its system of electing judges but said appointing them would bring its own consequences.

Appointments would not remove politics from the process of selecting judges, he said: “You’re just removing the focus on politics.”

Saylor said the Supreme Court gets about 7,000 cases a year and agrees to review 100 or fewer of them. He said the high court’s goal is to rule within five or six months after oral argument is made before the justices.


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