The Republican majority in the Pennsylvania state senate set a very dangerous precedent on Tuesday when they refused to seat Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster because his Republican challenger refuse to concede the election even though the state already certified Brewster as the winner.
During Tuesday’s session the Republicans seized power from Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who should serve as the presiding officer by voting to remove him because he refused to recognize a motion that would have prevented Brewster from getting sworn in.
This cleared the way for Interim Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican to take over the proceedings instead.
Corman tabled the seating so members of the Senate could digest both sides of an official challenge brought by Brewster’s opponent Nicole Ziccarelli.
Ziccarelli who lost to Brewster on November 3rd by 69 votes is challenging electoral results in federal court. She is asking that the court throw out 311 mail-in ballots that arrived before election day but lacked a handwritten date on the outer ballot envelope, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court already ruled that those ballots can be counted.
Ziccarelli is essentially asking the federal court to overturn the state Supreme Court decision.
Attorneys for Brewster, as well as the Democratic Party, have argued that a federal court lacks jurisdiction to overturn a state-court decision.
It is not clear how long the Republicans plan to keep the seat vacant since Ziccarelli’s challenge in federal court is still pending with no deadline for action.
“Republicans in Pennsylvania and nationally have spread disinformation and used it to subvert the democratic process. Sen. Jim Brewster rightfully won the 45th Senate District, but Senate Republicans are ignoring the voters in the district and refusing to swear him in as Senator. This is a shameful power grab that disgraces the institution,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “All ballots were counted and certified, and the results are accurate. Sen. Brewster received the most votes in this race and should be sworn in as the Senator for the 45th District. There is no precedent, and no legal rationale, for failing to do so,” he added.