Friday, November 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

That PSU Lawsuit

Among the questions surrounding Gov. Corbett's lawsuit against the NCAA is why taxpayers should pay for it.

That PSU Lawsuit

Many questions surround Gov. Corbett's decision to sue the NCAA over sanctions imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky child-sex scandal.

Why, for example, did Corbett accept the sanctions when they were imposed last summer but now seeks to challenge them?

Why, for example, isn't PSU suing the NCAA rather than complying with the sanctions?

And why, for example, are state taxpayers paying for what's certain to be protracted and expensive litigation, assuming Philly mega-firm Cozen O'Connor (575 lawyers) isn't taking the case pro bono?

In announcing the lawsuit Wednesday, Corbett said the NCAA sanctions punish, among others, "the citizens of Pennsylvania."

If that's so, why punish them further with a fat legal bill?

Why is it when the state (whether an administration or the Legislature) is involved in a serious lawsuit there's always outside, private counsel? Why do taxpayers pay thousands of full-time government lawyers and then pay more for private litigators?

If money is so tight for basic government functions (pick your own underfunded or cut-back program or public safety area), why is there always enough money for private-sector lawyers?

This gets us to questions of motive.

Fairly or not, the Guv lost favor with many in the Penn State Nation over handling of the Sandusky investigation as attorney general and involvement in the firing of Joe Paterno as governor and PSU board member.

The huge political victory (as in more votes than Barack Obama) of Kathleen Kane, who was elected state attorney general largely on the promise to investigate Corbett's handling of Sandusky, no doubt set off alarms for anyone in the Corbett camp thinking about 2014.

But even if you believe Corbett's lawsuit is based on a newly-informed legal position that the NCAA lacks authority to impose PSU-type sanctions; even if you believe the Guv has legal standing in a case where the aggrieved party is complying with the sanctions against it; even if you believe the lawsuit's sole motive is justice for all, do you also believe state taxpayers should fund it?


John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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