From Kim Stolfer ...
The amendment listed below (by Rep. Sturla-A08647) is causing a great deal of concern in Harrisburg.
I have placed the actual amendment text below and as you can see it is meant to have a chilling effect on citizens challenging government in the courts. This is an unconscionable expansion of government power to quell dissent in the voice of the people who object to their rights being violated and their communities being used as a springboard for an unconstitutional, anti-gun agenda.
In point of fact, as seen in the referenced section below, the United States Supreme Court has held that individuals whose rights have been violated should not be the only ones bearing the "inevitable costs of government" when it involves citizens Constitutional rights. This amendment by Rep. Sturla is potentially in violation of this Supreme Court decision and will work to the disparagement of Pennsylvania citizens’ rights.
The knowledge that a municipality will be liable for all of its injurious conduct, whether committed in good faith or not, should create an incentive for officials who may harbor doubts about the lawfulness of their intended actions to err on the side of protecting citizens' constitutional rights.... [Since] it is the public at large which enjoys the benefits of the government's activities, and it is the public at large which is ultimately responsible for its administration...it is fairer to allocate any resulting financial loss to the inevitable costs of government borne by all the taxpayers, than to allow its impact to be felt solely by those whose rights...have been violated. U.S. Supreme Court - OWEN v. CITY OF INDEPENDENCE, 445 U.S. 622 (1980) 445 U.S. 622
This amendment language (A08647) and concept is also a naked payoff to the anti-gun organizations who have been promoting violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution and our current preemption statute (title 18, section 6120).
For the last three years these anti-gun organizations have been encouraging the violation of Pennsylvania law and openly stated that they would be responsible for legal costs if these local ordinances were challenged. This, in our view, is directly connected to this amendment as not only would the local political subdivision be financially responsible to reimburse court costs for being sued but these anti-gun organizations could then also be sued by the political subdivision for reimbursement since they pledged to cover all legal costs of these communities.
Make no mistake about it this is a clear attempt to silence gunowners who challenge these laws in court! As an example the American Civil Liberties Union does not have to reimburse school districts when they sue them and neither do they have to reimburse local municipalities for other issues when they take them to court.
A08647 – Sturla – Position – Coalition – OPPOSED
(a.3) Political subdivision.--A political subdivision that
prevails in a lawsuit filed under subsection (a.2) is entitled
to be reimbursed by the party who filed the lawsuit for
reasonable attorney fees and costs.
This amendment would have a chilling effect on access to the courts, an essential component of the Constitution, by the people of the Commonwealth. This is completely unacceptable!
If you believe in your constitutional rights then please contact every legislator you can by phone and by e-mail and tell them to vote against this amendment or any other amendment like this! Of all of the amendments filed against this legislation this one may be the most despicable and underhanded of all of them.
Please don't let them sway your opinion or your voice! Again please join us in opposition to this amendment!