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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Against Ethics Commission

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that Section 1103(g) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, 65 Pa. C. S.§1103(g), which sets limits on the ability of former state employees or officers to represent clients before the state agency for which they worked, violates Article V, §10(c) of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which vests in the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law. The opinion, by Justice Newman, while recognizing the "sound rationale" of the prohibition, found that the provision specifically targets attorneys, and thus is not a general regulation of the conduct of public employees of the type that the Court allowed in the case of P.J.S. v. State Ethics Commission, 723 A.2nd 174 (Pa.1999). Justice Newman also ruled that the plaintiff had standing to bring the action, even though the ruling which she appealed was advisory. The majority opinion may be seen here. Justice Lamb filed a concurring opinion, Justice Eakin a concurring and dissenting opinion, and Justice Saylor a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Nigro.