The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Interpreting the Pennsylvania Uniformity Clause

By Hickman, Kristin E. | Albany Law Review, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Interpreting the Pennsylvania Uniformity Clause


Hickman, Kristin E., Albany Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

Since Justice Brennan touched off a purported rebirth of the state courts as the protectors of the people,(1) academics have been debating whether collected flickers of state court activity constitute a genuine trend.(2) While the substantive effect of the so-called new judicial federalism is a matter of much debate, there is some concurrence that the state courts have increasingly recognized state constitutions as independent guarantees of individual rights.(3) Nevertheless, the state courts still seem to struggle to define themselves and their role as co-equal participants in the national governmental system.

State courts have relied upon their state constitutions to render decisions different from the federal rulings of the United States Supreme Court.(4) However, whether state courts are approaching issues with a new seriousness of analysis and independence of thought, as opposed to relying on state constitutions simply to justify disagreement with the United States Supreme Court on rights issues, remains an open question. State courts can only sustain the intellectual legitimacy of their rejection of federal constitutional doctrine in individual rights cases if they exercise such independent judgment consistently.

Though arriving a little late at the new judicial federalism party,(5) the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is among those that have reasserted their autonomy. In Commonwealth v. Edmunds,(6) Pennsylvania's highest court signaled its intent to analyze its own state constitutional provisions independently through an examination of four criteria: "1) text of the Pennsylvania constitutional provision; 2) history of the provision, including Pennsylvania case-law; 3) related case-law from other states; [and] 4) policy considerations, including unique issues of state and local concern, and applicability within modern Pennsylvania jurisprudence."(7) The court stated: "Although we may accord weight to federal decisions where they `are found to be logically persuasive and well reasoned ...,' we are free to reject the conclusions of the United States Supreme Court so long as we remain faithful to the minimum guarantees established by the United States Constitution."(8) As one of its own members has repeatedly noted, however, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has not been consistent in exercising such authority.(9) "And still we wonder why our courts often are criticized for being like little puppies who chase their own tails rather than run forward."(10)

It is too soon to proclaim the new judicial federalism a success in restoring the importance of state constitutions to their rightful place as protectors of the rights and interests of the people. Certainly some state courts have demonstrated new vigor with respect to hot button issues that capture the imagination and attention of the media and legal scholars. For supporters of the new judicial federalism to claim victory, however, the evaluation of state constitutional case law must go further than the cases that make for good press. For the new judicial federalism to be legitimized as more than a hollow trend, state court jurisprudence must be scrutinized with respect to the more mundane provisions of state constitutions as well.

The purpose of this Comment is to examine whether the new judicial federalism theory holds true for one such state constitutional provision that addresses issues of demonstrated importance to the citizenry: equality and taxation. The Comment will examine the history and evolution of the Pennsylvania Constitution's uniformity clause, which requires that all taxes be uniform upon the same class of subjects.(11) Taxation is not a subject that excites the passions of many scholars or judges; however, the history of the uniformity clause shows it to be a powerful expression of the meaning of equality to the people of Pennsylvania. Moreover, how the uniformity clause is interpreted impacts the lives and livelihoods of the majority of Pennsylvania's citizens. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Interpreting the Pennsylvania Uniformity Clause
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.