HARRISBURG - The League of Women Voters yesterday sued Pennsylvania's previous chief justice, alleging that the high court upheld the state's slot-machine- gambling law in exchange for approval of a judicial pay raise.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Harrisburg, named former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy and cited allegations and information provided by unnamed legislators. The suit said Cappy used secret meetings with legislators to negotiate the ruling on the slots law and a pay raise for more than 1,000 judges, including himself and six other Supreme Court justices.
The 17-page suit cites an allegation by an unnamed senator, although the lawsuit does not say how the senator knows about the alleged deal.
The suit claimed that Cappy had told legislators during a meeting of one particualr caucus that "he needed the pay raise to secure the votes of Republican justices" on cases important to them.
Cappy, who left the bench Jan. 6, did not immediately respond to a message left yesterday at his Pittsburgh law office. Legislative officials also did not respond to requests for comment.
If true, the alleged deal would represent a violation of the league's constitutional rights to due process, since the league was one of the groups that filed that lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's 2004 law that legalized slot machines.
The state Supreme Court largely ruled against the league's lawsuit in June 2005, although it struck down three small provisions in the sprawling law. Two weeks later, the Legislature approved a substantial pay raise for judges, legislators and some executive-branch officials. *