Cases January 28, 2022

Pennsylvania v. Dush (consolidated) – Private Voter Information (PA)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Issue Areas
Summary

In September 2021, the Pennsylvania Senate’s Intergovernmental Operations Committee issued a subpoena to the Department of State for the private information of millions of voters as part of its investigation into the 2020 election results. The data requested includes the names, addresses, birth dates, driver’s license numbers, and partial Social Security numbers of every registered Pennsylvanian.

To protect Pennsylvania citizens’ privacy and voting rights, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, joined by pro bono co-counsel States United Democracy Center and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, filed a lawsuit and petitioned the court to block the subpoena.

The lawsuit argues that the Senate subpoena, if enforced, would violate millions of Pennsylvanians’ right to privacy guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Commonwealth’s laws. Additionally, the lawsuit contends the subpoena violates the right to free and fair elections in the state’s constitution, was not issued for a legitimate legislative purpose, exceeds the Intergovernmental Operations Committee’s authority, and violates federal law protecting critical information infrastructure.  

The petition was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The respondents in the case are Senator Cris Dush, Senator Jake Corman, and the Pennsylvania State Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. It was consolidated with other cases filed by other parties, including Democratic legislators, private citizens, and the League of Women Voters, who also sought to block the subpoena.  

In November 2021, the state Senate announced it had signed a contract with a third-party, Florida-based vendor, Envoy Sage, to handle the investigation. The firm is newly formed and has no experience in elections, data analysis, or conducting audits. 

In January, a five-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court held that there were substantial questions of fact that needed to be answered before it could decide whether the petition should be granted and directed the parties to develop the record. In late January, the Court ordered the parties to undertake further briefing on the question of whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. 

Latest Update

Oral Argument on the jurisdictional issues will be held on September 12, 2022.   

Related Documents