WOULD A ROSE by any other name smell as sweet?
Can an attorney general without a law license be the attorney general? That is the question Pennsylvania is pondering, after the state Supreme Court yesterday took the unprecedented action of suspending state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's license to practice law.
'Tis yet the latest act in our midsummer night's dream of ruination and recrimination, pornography and misogyny, spying and lying.
To wit: Yesterday, the court decided unanimously to temporarily suspend Kane's law license after she was charged last month with perjury, obstruction of justice and other crimes for allegedly leaking grand-jury information, then ordering her lieutenants to spy on people involved in the subsequent criminal investigation.
Kane, 49, the state's first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general, was bracing over the weekend for yesterday's decision from the Supreme Court, where Republicans hold a 3-to-2 edge.
Her legal team was hoping that, if they lost, it would at least be along party lines. They already had begun planning to seek the recusal of one of the Republican justices by citing pornographic and racist emails found on his private Yahoo account.
But, alas, all five justices ruled against Kane - including fellow female Democrat Debra McCloskey Todd. Et tu, Todd?
"The fact that it's unanimous is quite damning and once again tightens the ropes, if you will, around her," said Christopher Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. "This is just another fairly significant push closer to the end for her."
Kane, however, is vowing to remain in office, even if her list of foxhole friends seems to be shrinking by the day.
"I am disappointed by the action taken by the Supreme Court today. It is important to note that the order specifically states that 'this order should not be construed as removing Respondent from elected office,' " Kane said in a statement. "I continue to maintain my innocence and plan to keep fighting to clear my name while serving out the rest of my term in office."
Later in the day, Kane sent an ominously revised statement that hinted at a strategy of mutually assured destruction - and possibly a massive expansion of the "Porngate" email scandal that has led to the resignations of several top officials in former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration and the retirement of one state Supreme Court justice.
The revised statement said Kane's staff had engaged in a "comprehensive review" of "all emails" on her office's servers and already had found emails of "government officials, including law-enforcement officials and judges, heretofore unknown to us."
Not good emails. Not the kind of emails that you want your wife and children seeing.
A source close to Kane's legal team said that some of the email addresses on the chain are from Phila.gov, Pennsylvania State Police and Montgomery County's government server.
The source described the emails that have been released so far - including those sent by prosecutor Frank Fina, the Kane nemesis now working for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams - as the "tip of the iceberg."
But Borick, the political-science professor, said it is unclear whether the porny emails can save Kane or simply drag everyone down with her.
"She's lost the support of the governor, public-opinion polls don't look very positive for her, the legal world is closing up on her," he said. "She's holding on to threads."
Kane has maintained that Fina and E. Marc Costanzo, another former state prosecutor now working for Williams, "corruptly manufactured" the criminal investigation against her to cover up pornographic, misogynistic and racist emails they had sent on state-owned computers.
The emails were uncovered during Kane's review of how Corbett, as attorney general, handled the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case. Fina and Costanzo had worked under Corbett.
But a subsequent review has uncovered a "wide network" of undisclosed offensive emails among government workers outside the Attorney General's Office, the source close to Kane's legal team said. Emails among judges and prosecutors - known in the legal world as ex parte communications - also could raise serious constitutional issues, whether they are sexually explicit or not.
There's also video that hasn't yet seen the light of day.
It's a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions . . .
And the next act is probably NSFW.